Vice President Kamala Harris stepped in Thursday to try to build support for the administration’s position in budget negotiations with President Biden in Japan, but had voice issues during a zoom call with the leaders.
Thursday presented Harris with an opportunity to ramp up the administration’s messaging amid high-stakes talks with Republican leaders on a budget that could pave the way for preventing defaults and raising the debt ceiling. debt.
But on a zoom call hosted by the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, Harris could barely get his first lines out.
“You can hear I have a bit of a frog in my throat, please forgive me,” she said as her voice cracked.
“I’ve been talking about this issue a lot lately,” she laughed.
Vice President Kamala Harris warned of default risks during a call with unidentified executives on Thursday – but sometimes struggled to get her remarks across with a ‘frog’ in her throat
Harris only managed to squeeze out a few lines of his pitch about the “unprecedented” nature of a default.
“This has never happened before,” she said. “It would mean that if this happened, it would be the first time in history that the United States government would not pay its bills.”
Just as she began to blast Trump’s tax cuts, although she was still struggling with voice issues, her audio cut out.
“We’re having a little technical difficulty, just give us a second, we’ll be back live in a second,” said former OPE chief, former Columbia mayor, SC mayor Steve Benjamin .
Then attendee Lael Brainerd, who heads Biden’s National Economic Council, chimed in “waiting for the vice president’s audio to be restored.”
She provided two benchmarks for negotiators, while saying default could cost millions of American jobs.
Harris apologized for her voice during the call. She attended an Emily’s List gala on Tuesday and plans to travel to California on Friday while President Joe Biden is out of the country.
Harris’ remarks come as aides to President Kevin McCarthy continue to meet with White House negotiators
President Biden is in Japan for the G7 summit. He cut his trip short by returning ahead of a planned trip to Australia and Papua New Guinea
White House negotiators have been “ordered to resist extreme attempts to take away Americans’ health care or push Americans into poverty,” said Lael Brainard, director of the National Economic Council, who participated in the call and intervened early when Harris’ audio cut
“The administration’s negotiating team is fighting extreme attempts to reverse the progress we’ve made” on climate change and other issues, she said.
She said negotiators were “ordered to resist extreme attempts to take away Americans’ health care or push Americans into poverty.”
It came after Biden hinted to reporters that Republican job demands were still on the table.
The president said as he left Washington on Wednesday, “Well, I won’t accept any work requirements that will impact people’s medical health needs” by removing Medicaid work requirements.
“I will not accept any work requirement far beyond what is already…I voted years ago for the work requirements that exist. But there may be a few more, but nothing major,” he added.
This raised the possibility that he would agree to some GOP changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, program.
His voice restored somewhat, Harris said a US default “could trigger a recession” and vowed a default “would not be accepted under any circumstances.”
Top aides to Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy continue their discussions.
The role played by Harris is not entirely clear. She participated in Biden’s Tuesday meeting with leaders of the “Big Four” in Congress.
But on Friday, the California native is set to travel to Los Angeles to make remarks on reproductive health, after playing a prominent public role in calling for the protection of abortion rights after the Dobbs decision.
It was not entirely clear who was on the call. Benjamin at one point thanked “the thousands of you who have chosen to join this call,” though the White House did not immediately respond to questions about who was being asked to join. call, which did not include a question-and-answer session.