Debt ceiling deadline moved up to June 1. Biden to meet with Congressional leaders – National & International News – TUE 2May2023



Debt ceiling deadline moved up to June 1. Biden to meet with Congressional leaders.

Biden sends 1,500 troops to Mexican border ahead of Title 42 end.

Israel, Gaza tensions rise after death of Palestinian prisoner.


Debt ceiling deadline moved up to June 1. Biden to meet with Congressional leaders

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has announced that the US could default on its debts as early as June 1 if Congress does not act to raise the debt ceiling. The effects of a default are uncertain as it has never happened before in US history. In 2011, the last time a default was averted by a last-minute deal, the US credit rating was downgrading. This raised interest rates and increased the national debt by billions of dollars.

Since then, Congress has voted to raise the debt ceiling several times with no drama, including three times under Trump. But hardline Republicans in the House have Speaker Kevin McCarthy walking a political tightrope to keep his chair. These hardliners are demanding steep budget cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Democrats and economists have compared it to a “hostage situation”.

Last week, House Republicans passed a budget proposal which some have called a “ransom letter”. Among other things, the GOP is demanding: new work requirements for recipients of food stamps over the age of 50; a clawback of unused pandemic funds (which individual states are already using to plug budget holes); an end to Biden’s plan to provide debt relief to millions of student borrowers; and a repeal of much of Biden’s budget priorities which were passed last year.

These proposals are a non-starter in the Democrat-controlled Senate. However, Biden has called the Republican and Democratic leaders of both the Senate and House to a meeting on May 9. The White House says that Biden is not interested in bowing to Republican demands to make raising the debt ceiling conditional. However, Biden hopes to have a meaningful discussion about budgetary matters, which he maintains should be separate. 

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Biden sends 1,500 troops to Mexican border ahead of Title 42 end

Title 42, a pandemic-era rule that allowed the US to immediately return migrants without allowing them to seek asylum, will expire on May 11. At that time, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) expects a wave of migrants entering to seek asylum. Some of these migrants, most from Central America, have been waiting for years in appalling and dangerous conditions. President Biden has ordered 1,500 active duty troops to join roughly 2,500 National Guard members in providing logistical support for CBP.

Title 42 was supposed to be a public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID. But the CDC, which imposed Title 42, has for months been calling for its end. Federal judges have also ruled that the government had illegally used Title 42 as a border enforcement tool, which was never its purpose.

Even with Title 42 in place, migrant encounters at the border have increased to record levels in recent years. Last year, there were over  2.76 million encounters with migrants illegally crossing the border. Many of these were repeat entries so the actual number of illegal migrants was probably considerably less.

Ineffective stopgaps and alternatives

In anticipation of the lifting of Title 42, Biden has imposed several new immigration and asylum restrictions. These measures single out migrants from poor and politically unstable countries, including Guatemala, Venezuela and Haiti. The plan bars them from seeking asylum at the border but opens pathways for them to apply for asylum from their home countries. However, these remote asylum applications require asylum seekers to have a US sponsor and a valid passport, which sets the bar too high for many poor would-be migrants.

The Department of Homeland Security, which is in charge of border security, has also rolled out the CBP One app. The purpose of CBP One is to discourage unauthorized entries by distributing appointments to apply for asylum at approved checkpoints. But the app has only increased frustration for many migrants. The app itself is buggy and is prone to rejecting ID photos submitted by darker-skinned people, a widely-known failing of facial recognition software. There are also only a very small number of appointments available at each crossing per day.

Under both US and international law, migrants arriving at the border have the right to make their case for asylum. Numerous human right and civil liberties groups have sued over both Title 42 and the other burdensome requirements by the Biden administration. 

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Israel, Gaza tensions rise after death of Palestinian prisoner

Palestinian nationalist Khader Adnan has died in Israeli custody after an 87-day hunger strike. In Gaza and the West Bank, where Adnan was from, thousands poured into the streets to protest and mourn his death.

The sequence of events is unclear, but it appears Israel kicked off today’s hostilities by firing artillery barrages into Gaza, possibly to discourage the protesters. Gaza then fired 26 rockets into Israel, wounding three people. Israel retaliated with air strikes in Gaza, but it’s not clear if there were any injuries or deaths.

Meanwhile in the West Bank city of Hebron, protesters burned tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers who were firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd. 

This new outbreak of violence follows a tense period last month where the Muslim holiday of Ramadan coincided with Jewish Passover. For nearly a week, Muslims camped in the Al-Aqsa mosque clashed with Israeli police and fundamentalist Jewish settlers. Hundreds were injured in repeated showdowns. 

Israel’s rightwing government has been accused of stoking tensions and even attempting to start a war to distract from unpopular judiciary reforms it’s trying to pass.

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