House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday slammed President Biden for leaving the U.S. for Asia today, even as staff for the White House and Congress are struggling to reach a debt ceiling agreement that allows the government to keep paying its bills after May.
Biden left the White House Wednesday morning for G7 meetings in Japan, a trip that some Republican lawmakers urged him to cancel in order to help find an agreement.
"Mr. President, stop hiding, stop traveling somewhere else," House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters outside the Capitol. "America wants an American president focused on American problems and finding American solutions."
When asked if Biden should cancel the trip, McCarthy said Biden is a "grown man" who can go where he likes, but he said Americans would prefer someone focused on the U.S., not other countries.
"I think America wants us to solve American problems first. He can decide whatever he wants to do," McCarthy said.
Others argued more clearly that Biden should have scrapped the trip.
"Mr. President, cancel your trip to Japan. Stay at the table," said Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.
The White House said Tuesday that Biden would cut short his trip to Asia and would return to the U.S. after the May 19-21 G7 summit ends because of the looming deadline to find a debt ceiling agreement. Biden originally planned to travel to Australia after meetings in Japan, but that leg of the trip was scrapped.
On Tuesday, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby acknowledged that the White House was "taking a look at the rest of the trip" after being asked whether the debt ceiling talks were a more important priority.
Republicans have argued for months now that they would only accept a higher borrowing limit for the government if were attached to reduced spending. House GOP lawmakers passed a bill cutting about $150 billion in discretionary spending that also raises the government’s borrowing limit, but Democrats want the two issues unlinked and only agreed to substantive talks with Republicans on these issues last week.
Still, McCarthy warned that resistance to these talks in the White House is still slowing them down.
"Do we have obstacles? Yes, we have a big obstacle in the White House," McCarthy said. "But we’re going to change the course of history because we’re going to stand for the American public."