Bipartisan US debt ceiling talks restart as deadline moves closer – live updates

by ZeuCer

LIVE – Updated at 17:48

Joe Biden schedules 9 May meeting with congressional leaders after warning US could default on debt as soon as 1 June.


Oklahoma is the latest state to pass legislation banning gender-affirming care for minors, as several states pass bills targeting the rights of transgender people.

The Republican governor, Kevin Stitt, signed a bill on Monday making it a felony for healthcare practitioners to provide children with gender-affirming care, including puberty-blockers and hormones, the Associated Press reported.

The bill comes as parents of transgender children, healthcare workers, and transgender people say that such care is essential.

“Gender-affirming care is a critical part of helping transgender adolescents succeed, establish healthy relationships with their friends and family, live authentically as themselves, and dream about their futures,” said Lambda Legal and the ACLU in a joint statement, PBS Newshour reported.

At least 15 other states have taken similar measures, with over 500 bills introduced in 2023 that target aspects of life for transgender people.


A Montana lawmaker is suing the state, Montana’s house speaker, and the sergeant of arms of the state’s house after she was censured, asking to be fully reinstated to her position.

House GOP voted to ban representative Zooey Zephyr on Wednesday from the state’s floor, gallery and anteroom after Zephyr, who is the state’s first openly transgender representative, criticized legislators for supporting a ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

Zephyr is now suing to be allowed back onto the house floor as she is only allowed to vote virtually. The lawsuit, filed on Monday, argues that limiting her ability to vote violates “free speech and expression rights,” the Washington Post reported.

“House leadership explicitly and directly targeted me and my district because I dared to give voice to the values and needs of transgender people like myself,” said Zephyr in a statement.

“By doing so, they’ve denied me my own rights under the constitution and, more importantly, the rights of my constituents to just representation in their own government.”

17:08Chris Stein

Here is reporting on the Senate judiciary committee meeting from the Guardian’s Chris Stein, who is currently in the hearing room.

Partisan splits were apparent in the Senate judiciary committee today as it kicked off a hearing on the supreme court’s ethics, with Democrats accusing the nation’s highest court of believing itself to be outside the law, and Republicans defending the justices from what they said were attacks motivated by bitterness over its recent rulings.

“Ethics cannot simply be left to the discretion of the nation’s highest court,” the committee’s Democratic chair Richard Durbin said. “The Court should have a code of conduct with clear and enforceable rules so both Justices and the American people know when conduct crosses the line. The highest court in the land should not have the lowest ethical standards. That reality is driving a crisis in public confidence in the supreme court.”

Durbin called the hearing after a series of reports about entanglements between the court’s justices, particularly its six conservatives, and lawyers and donors with interests in the court’s outcome. Chief justice John Roberts was invited to testify, but declined, instead sending a document signed by all of the court’s nine justices that outlined their approach to ethics.

Lindsey Graham, the judiciary committee’s top Republican, said the Democrats were using the hearing to retaliate against justices who authored opinions they didn’t agree with. Last year, the court’s conservatives upended nearly a half-century of precedent by overturning Roe v Wade and allowing states to ban abortion entirely, cut into the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate power plant emissions and weakened laws on possession of concealed weapons.

“This is not about making the court better,” Graham said. “This is about destroying a conservative court. It will not work.”

Midday summary


We’ve reached the midpoint for today’s politics live blog.

Here’s what’s happened so far:

  • New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said late on Monday that the California senator Dianne Feinstein should resign, joining a bipartisan chorus calling for Feinstein to step down amid absences from the Senate.

  • Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said during a Tuesday speech on the Senate floor that Democrats will only pass a “clean” debt ceiling increase, as a 1 June debt default looms.

  • A new poll puts Donald Trump ahead of Florida governor Ron DeSantis among Republican primary voters in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary election, as Trump continues to outperform DeSantis in several polls.

  • Debt ceiling talks have gained a second wind after a warning on Monday by the US treasury secretary Janet Yellen that the US could default on its debt as soon as 1 June, as Biden confers a 9 May meeting with top congressional leaders.

Poll places Donald Trump ahead of Ron DeSantis


A new poll puts Donald Trump ahead of Florida governor Ron DeSantis among Republican primary voters in a hypothetical 2024 presidential primary election.

The CBS News-You Gov poll found that Trump trounced DeSantis among primary voters by 36 points, as DeSantis has not officially announced whether he will throw his hat in the ring for the 2024 presidency, the Hill reports.

DeSantis only had 22% of prospective primary voters.

Former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy both trailed significantly, gaining four and five percentage points, respectively.

DeSantis had been a top potential Republican nominee for months ahead of a rumored run for the country’s highest office.

But more recently, support for Trump has buoyed, as the former president outperforms DeSantis in multiple polls.

Senate judiciary committee meet to discuss supreme court ethics rules


The Senate judiciary committee is holding a meeting to discuss whether the US supreme court should bolster its ethics rules following a series of reported conflicts between supreme court justices and personal interests.

The Tuesday meeting comes after several scandals that have called into question the ethics of the court and diminishing public confidence in the institution, the Washington Post reported.

Most recently, supreme court justice Clarence Thomas has come under fire after media organization ProPublica publicized that the longest-serving justice accepted luxury travel and vacations over two decades from the real estate mogul and Republican donor Harlan Crow.

Such gifts and a real estate deal between Thomas and Crow were undisclosed by Thomas.

Ahead of today’s meeting, Chief Justice John Roberts declined an invitation to appear and testify about judicial ethics. The justice instead forwarded a three page “Statement on Ethics Principles and Practices”, which is signed by all nine justices. The non-binding memo is meant to “reaffirm and restate foundational ethics principles and practices to which they subscribe”.

But Roberts himself is facing scrutiny after a whistleblower alleged that Roberts’s wife, Jane Roberts, made millions through recruiting for top law firms.

Related: Chief Justice John Roberts declines to appear at Senate judiciary hearing


Here’s more background on Feinstein’s absence from the Senate, with her last Senate vote taking place in mid-February.

From NBC News’s Garrett Haake:

AOC: California senator Dianne Feinstein ‘should retire’


New York representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said late on Monday that the California senator Dianne Feinstein should resign, as Feinstein faces mounting pressure from her party to step down amid absences from the Senate.

Ocasio-Cortez posted her thoughts on the app Bluesky, writing that Feinstein should “should retire”, CNN reported.

“I think criticisms of that stance as ‘anti-feminist’ are a farce,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

Feinstein, who has already said she will retire from Congress at the end of 2024, has been absent from the Senate as she recovers from a bout of shingles.

Feinstein is a member of the Senate judiciary committee, which has had problems processing judicial nominations amid her absence.

“Her refusal to either retire or show up is causing great harm to the judiciary – precisely where repro rights are getting stripped. That failure means now in this precious window Dems can only pass GOP- approved nominees,” said Ocasio-Cortez on social media.

Schumer: Democrats will only pass ‘clean’ debt ceiling increase


Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said on Tuesday that Democrats will only pass a “clean” debt ceiling increase during a speech on the Senate floor, as a 1 June debt default looms.

During his speech, Schumer reiterated that the position of Democrats “remains the same”, but did not provide a timeline for a when a possible vote on a spending bill with no spending cuts attached would happen, Reuters reports.

Schumer’s declaration comes as Biden invites the four congressional leaders to a 9 May meeting to discuss the impending debt ceiling crisis.

White House sources have confirmed that Biden has not changed his stance on only approving a deal that doesn’t include spending cuts or work requirements attacked to safety nets.


The latest poll comes as Trump faces legal action for alleged rape and defamation by journalist E Jean Carroll.

Here is the latest update on the ongoing litigation from Chris McGreal for the Guardian:


Jurors in E Jean Carroll’s legal action against Donald Trump for alleged rape and defamation are expected to begin hearing on Tuesday from two women who say they can back key parts of the advice columnist’s account.

Carroll wrapped up three days on the witness stand on Monday as the judge in the civil case, Lewis Kaplan, denied a defense motion for a mistrial on the grounds that he had made “pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings” against Trump’s team during its cross-examination of the former president’s accuser.

Carroll is suing Trump for battery for allegedly raping her in a New York department store changing room in 1996, and for defamation for calling her a liar after she went public about the alleged assault in 2019.

Carroll’s legal team is expected to call two women, Lisa Birnbach and Carol Martin, to testify that the advice columnist told them about the alleged assault shortly after it occurred. Both have since corroborated the account.

Read the full update here.

Related: Women to testify they can corroborate E Jean Carroll’s rape allegation against Trump


For those with questions, here is a Guardian explainer on the debt ceiling crisis and what will happen if it’s not raised, by the Guardian’s Lauren Aratani:


… What is the debt ceiling?

The debt ceiling is the limit on the amount of money the US government can borrow to pay for services, such as social security, Medicare and the military.

Each year, the government takes in revenue from taxes and other streams, such as customs duties, but ultimately spends more than it takes in. This leaves the government with a deficit, which has ranged from $400bn to $3tn each year over the last decade. The deficit left at the end of the year ultimately gets tacked on to the country’s total debt.

To borrow money, the US treasury issues securities, like US government bonds, that it will eventually pay back with interest. Once the US government hits its debt limit, the treasury cannot issue more securities, essentially stopping a key flow of money into the federal government.

Congress is in charge of setting the debt limit, which currently stands at $31.4tn. The debt ceiling has been raised 78 times since 1960, under both Democrat and Republican presidents. At times, the ceiling was briefly suspended and then reinstated at a higher limit, essentially a retroactive raising of the debt ceiling.

Read the full explainer here.

Related: What is the US debt ceiling and what will happen if it is not raised?


More on McConnell’s possible help during this latest debt ceiling crisis, from NBC News’s Sahil Kapur:


Many have predicted that Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell will likely intervene in debt ceiling discussions amid the ongoing stalemate, despite his promises to stay out of it.

McConnell helped negotiate between the parties during the last debt ceiling crisis, when it was last raised by $2.5tn in December 2021.

But the Kentucky senator has vowed to not play referee between the two parties this time around. Telling reporters on Monday, McConnell said:

The president knows how to do this … Until he and the Speaker of the House reach an agreement, we’ll be at a standoff … We have divided government. The president and the Speaker need to come together and solve the problem.


With a 9 May meeting set to discuss the looming debt ceiling deadline, Republicans and Democrats have each dug their heels in about their conditions for raising the debt limit.

House Republicans, led by McCarthy, have said they will only raise the ceiling if Democrats agree to several stipulations including spending cuts and work requirements on social safety nets.

While House republicans did manage to pass their debt ceiling bill through, said bill was described by Senate leader Chuck Schumer as “dead on arrival”. Schumer added that the Senate would hold hearings to “expose the true impact” the proposed bill, the Hill reported.

Meanwhile, McCarthy and other Republican backers have said that the recently passed bill is the opening shot in their strategy to prove that Republicans have redress to the debt ceiling crisis.

But, even those in support of the GOP debt limit package agree that getting wider support with Biden and in the Senate will be a tougher battle.

“I’m sure it’s going to be tougher,” said Georgia representative Marjorie Taylor Greene to the Hill.

Debt ceiling talks restart as deadline looms


Good morning.

Debt ceiling talks have gained a second wind after a warning on Monday by the US treasury secretary Janet Yellen that the US could default on its debt as soon as 1 June.

Following the warning, the Biden administration announced that Joe Biden has scheduled a 9 May meeting with top congressional leaders in hopes of brokering an agreement.

So far, House speaker Kevin McCarthy has accepted the invitation, in what will be Biden’s first bipartisan discussion on the issue since 1 February.

But amid a restart in talks, White House sources have said that Biden has not moved on his demands for a clean debt ceiling increase, Politico reports, as House Republicans have refused to raise the debt ceiling without deep budget cuts and other stipulations.

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