Steve Bannon issued a veiled threat to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the debt ceiling on Sunday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the United States will run out of money needed to pay its debts by June 1, meaning the country faces a potential default. The U.S. defaulting on it debts could have a catastrophic effect on the economy, experts say, unless Congress is able to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling by the end of the month.
McCarthy, a California Republican, has been engaged in negotiations with Democratic leaders over raising the debt ceiling, but Congress has not yet reached a deal. Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, have pledged to not raise the debt ceiling without the inclusion of some spending cuts, but any cuts would need to be agreed to by Democrats, who control the Senate and White House, who generally oppose them.
Bannon, a former strategist to former President Donald Trump and leading voice on the GOP’s right-leaning flank, warned McCarthy against making concessions to Democrats during negotiations in a Gettr post.
The staunch conservative, without mentioning McCarthy’s name, warned that the GOP “populist” wing previously “took down” past Republican speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan over fiscal disagreements.
“Remember—the Populist Right took down John Boehner, then Ryan—we will NOT fold on the debt ceiling/spending fights….” Bannon wrote on Sunday.
Bannon’s veiled threat represents a political challenge for McCarthy, who must walk the fine line of striking a deal with Democrats to avoid a widespread economic meltdown while also appeasing his party’s conservative base, who are pushing him to support more substantial spending cuts and oppose working with Democrats.
Newsweek reached out to Bannon and McCarthy’s office for comment via email.
Meanwhile, McCarthy was handed a victory in negotiations last week after President Joe Biden indicated he would be willing to discuss spending cuts following a meeting with congressional leaders on Tuesday. Biden said he was “prepared to begin a separate discussion about my budget and spending priorities,” though he said prior to that meeting that he opposed spending cuts.
Should Congress and Biden fail to reach a deal, the president has said his administration has studied whether he could turn to the 14th Amendment to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. Section Four of the amendment says the “validity of the public debt…shall not be questioned,” leading some legal scholars to believe Biden could invoke this clause to raise the debt ceiling without a deal.
However, this mechanism is viewed as a last resort of which Biden is wary of using, and Republicans have spoken out against this idea. Representative Chip Roy, a Texas Republican, said Republicans in Congress would “blow crap up” if Biden invokes this amendment, according to MSNBC.