(WASHINGTON) -- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday issued a new letter to Congress stating the government won't begin to run out of money to pay its bills until June 5 -- slightly later than the agency's previous prediction of as soon as June 1.
"Based on the most recent available data, we now estimate that Treasury will have insufficient resources to satisfy the government's obligations if Congress has not raised or suspended the debt limit by June 5," Yellen wrote.
The update buys much-needed time for negotiators to hammer out a deal to raise the debt limit and avoid a disastrous default. The so-called "X-date" has always been fluid, based on daily federal tax revenues and expenditures.
This letter comes as the Treasury Department's cash reserves are running dangerously low.
New Treasury data shows its cash balance dwindled to just $39 billion at the end of the day yesterday. This is down from roughly $60 billion at the end of last week – and $316 billion at the start of the month.
The Treasury also released data showing it holds roughly $67 billion in "extraordinary measures" it can use.
In her letter, Yellen noted that more than $130 billion of payments are scheduled in the first two days of June, including to Veterans and Social Security and Medicare recipients.
"These payments will leave Treasury with an extremely low level of resources," she wrote.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
(WASHINGTON) -- With potential default just six days away, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy arrived at the Capitol Friday telling reporters he remained optimistic despite no deal in hand.
McCarthy said negotiators "made progress" overnight but wouldn't get into specifics of the framework being discussed.
"And I'm gonna work as hard as we can to try to get this done, get more progress today and finish the job," the speaker told reporters. "I'm a total optimist."
But when asked if they could reach a deal on Friday, McCarthy's demurred.
"Look, I'm gonna work as hard as I can. As soon as we get a deal, we're gonna get a deal but it has to be worthy of the American people," he said.
President Joe Biden, too, said progress was being made on Thursday.
"I've made it clear time and again: Defaulting on our national debt is not an option," Biden said.
He added the negotiations with McCarthy are "about the outlines of what the budget will look like, not about default. It's about competing visions for America."
Though once an agreement is reached, significant legislative hurdles remain in getting it passed before June 1 -- the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen maintains the U.S. could start to run out of cash to pay all its bills.
McCarthy is pledging to give House members 72 hours to review the bill before bringing it to the floor for a vote. If it passes, it will go the Senate, where it would take just one lawmaker to delay approval for up to a week.
Also at issue is potential opposition from the wings of both parties. Several progressive Democrats have expressed frustration too much ground may be conceded to Republicans, whole conservative hardliners with the House Freedom Caucus are encouraging McCarthy to "hold the line" on their spending demands.
McCarthy on Friday appeared to defend the negotiations against growing dissatisfaction from the far right of his party.
"You're talking to people who don't know what's in the deal," he said when asked about the House Freedom Caucus members urging him to stop negotiations altogether.
"So I'm not concerned about anybody making any comments right now about what they think is in or not in. Whenever we come to an agreement, we'll make sure we will first brief our entire conference," he added.
ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott has reported negotiators are eyeing a possible deal to raise the debt limit through 2024, increase defense spending and veteran spending for two years while also clawing back unspent COVID-19 funds.
Top Republican negotiator Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana said late Thursday work requirements was a key sticking point.
"We have a lot of hang-ups but that's one of the bigger issues we're dealing with," Graves said.
When asked if they can get a deal by this weekend, Graves said, "We're not going to stop negotiating. We're not going to stop. The speaker has made clear this is a priority."
(WASHINGTON) -- What started as a rocky presidential campaign launch marred with technical issues ended with a massive roll-in of cash for the first 24 hours of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' presidential campaign.
DeSantis raised $8.2 million in his first 24 hours as a presidential candidate, according to sources familiar with the fundraising. The governor's spokesman, Bryan Griffin, later confirmed the figure to ABC News.
DeSantis' campaign team aimed to raise $8-10 million in donations during the first 24 hours of the campaign, two sources confirmed to ABC News.
The amount DeSantis raised surpassed the $6.3 million President Joe Biden raised in the first 24 hours of his presidential launch in 2019.
The governor had summoned donors and fundraisers to the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami, Florida, for a two-day event that started on the same day as his campaign launch for president, which included dropping a campaign video announcing his run ahead of DeSantis taking to Twitter Spaces to discuss his run with Twitter CEO and billionaire Elon Musk. The rocky Twitter Spaces rollout did not deter from the excitement and support donors inside the Miami event had for DeSantis' campaign, with attendees describing the event as "filled with a ton of energy."
Although the governor and his wife, Casey DeSantis, did not attend the first day of the donor event, the pair appeared on the second day, arriving sometime around noon, according to a source familiar with the governor's arrival. People who were in attendance said that they thought that the governor was "personable" and "fun."
Sources who attended the fundraising event told ABC News that the governor and his wife were meeting with donors and jumping on calls to raise money for the campaign.
Even with the large sum of money raised within the first 24 hours of DeSantis' campaign, other organizations plan to support the governor's 2024 run.
The pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down will use $100 million of its $200 million budget on voter outreach and field operations to support DeSantis' presidential run financially.
The strong fundraising haul may be a boon to the campaign after its Wednesday launch, which was plagued by technical issues to the point that a link to a new Twitter Space needed to be created.
DeSantis' next campaign-related event will be next week in Iowa where he'll hold his campaign kick off.
(WASHINGTON) -- A former leading member of the far-right Oath Keepers militia group was sentenced Friday to eight years and six months in prison for her role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
Jessica Watkins led a small group into the Capitol building, but prosecutors said her actions enabled many more to ultimately disrupt the certification of Joe Biden's 2020 election victory.
Struggling to express her remorse through her tears, Watkins apologized before the court.
"My actions and behaviors on that fateful day were wrong and -- as I now understand -- criminal," she said.
Watkins' sentencing follows two lengthy prison terms handed down this week to Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes and one of his chief lieutenants, Kelly Meggs. Rhodes on Thursday received the longest sentence of any Jan. 6 defendant to date at 18 years, while Meggs was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Last November, Watkins was found guilty of conspiring to obstruct the certification of the 2020 election and actual obstruction of that proceeding. Unlike Rhodes and Meggs, she was acquitted on the more serious charge of seditious conspiracy against the United States.
Once inside the Capitol, Watkins jammed herself in a hallway packed with rioters heading toward the Senate chamber.
Police officers were at the opposite end of the hallway, pressing back against the mob. Officer Christopher Owens tearfully spoke to the court this week about the physical and emotional trauma he and other officers experienced.
"She used her body in that hallway," federal prosecutor Alexandra Hughes told the court Friday. "She bears responsibility for the mental anguish and physical wounds of officers like Christopher Owens."
Watkins founded a separate militia group in Ohio before joining with the Oath Keepers. A veteran and former medic, Watkins said she left the military after experiencing harassment over her gender transition.
"Your story and what you have endured … shows a great deal of courage, resilience, and you've overcome a lot," federal judge Amit Mehta said before handing down her sentence.
"But all that doesn't wipe out what happened that day," Mehta said. "It doesn't wipe out what you did that day."
(WASHINGTON) -- Gridlock in Washington over raising the debt ceiling threatens to disrupt payments to millions of Americans who rely on government benefits each month.
Seniors, veterans and Americans living with disabilities could be the first to suffer if the federal government is unable to pay its bills as soon as June 1. Payments totaling about $100 billion are scheduled to go out June 1 and June 2, with more scheduled throughout the month.
Several people shared with ABC News their growing financial fears as the political stalemate continues.
Susan Prahl Meachum, a 64-year-old living in rural Virginia, said she will "lose everything" if there is no deal to raise the debt limit in time.
Meachum is disabled and receives a $941 Social Security payment on the first day of every month. She said a delay would mean she couldn't afford rent, utilities or groceries.
"In Washington, we're being treated like numbers, or just totally figures on a page. We're human beings and we're doing the best we can with what we've got," Meachum said.
Pamala Gambe, 56, builds her entire budget around her $1,168 Social Security disability check, delivered on the third day of every month. Gambe lives with her granddaughter, and told ABC she struggles to "keep her in clothes or shoes."
"I make sure all the bills are paid first," she said.
Food stamps are also critical for Gambe amid persistently high inflation at the grocery store. The government is scheduled to pay out $1 billion in SNAP benefits on June 12. Gambe said she worries stricter work requirements for federal aid programs like food stamps -- a key sticking point in the negotiations -- could put her benefits at risk.
"Without Social Security and SNAP, not only will we be homeless, my goodness, we wouldn't have money to buy food," she said.
Also due on June 1 -- $12 billion for veterans benefits. In North Carolina, 41-year-old Army veteran Skyleigh Heinen fears she's among millions of vets whose VA benefits could be delayed.
"To me, there really isn't a debate. We pay our bills," she said.
Army veteran Naveed Shah in Washington, D.C., and Air Force veteran Jacob Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota, added the uncertainty over a U.S. default is already hitting American military families.
"Even if a deal is reached, everything winds up being okay next week, that still means that right now, families and veterans across the country are having to think about what does it mean for me to have to ration my current paycheck or my current disability paycheck," Thomas said.
(WASHINGTON) -- The 123 federal prisons in the United States need roughly $2 billion worth of "maintenance" and most are "aging and deteriorating," according to a DOJ inspector general report.
In three prisons, the conditions are so bad they had to be closed -- including the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan, which held Jeffrey Epstein prior to his death.
"We're seeing crumbling prisons," DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz told Chief Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas. "We're seeing buildings that we go into that have actually holes in the ceilings in multiple places, leading to damages to kitchens, to doctor's offices to gymnasiums. And they're not being fixed."
The inspector general's investigation showed crumbling infrastructure in MCC New York, which was closed by Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and currently has no reopening date.
While BOP sought $200 million for infrastructure repairs in fiscal year 2022 and was allocated just $57 million from Congress, the costs to fix all the facilities would cost closer to $2 billion, per the report released earlier this month.
"And that what we've seen is when you don't fix your infrastructure, we don't keep your building up to speed," Horowitz said. "You create safety and security issues. We've seen inmates sleeping with pipes running over their heads that leak, that aren't getting fixed."
It is not only inmates that have to deal with dilapidated infrastructure, but staff who work in the prisons have to as well.
"We've been complaining about our prison conditions for many, many years, and it's the conditions of confinement for the offenders, but it's also the working conditions that our employees work in," Shane Fausey, president of the Council of Prisons Locals, told ABC News.
Fausey, who represents over 30,000 federal corrections officers in the country, said the employees he represents go into work in tough conditions with little fanfare because they are dedicated to keeping their communities safe.
The inspector general also released three other reports detailing some of the other failures at the BOP. The Taft Correctional Institution in Taft, California was so unsafe, according to the IG, that the Justice Department had to shut down its operations. The facility was built in 1996 and had problems from its opening with unstable soil that caused cracks throughout the facility. Those cracks were so big that the sun shines through them, according to the report.
"We're seeing problems in every institution," Horowitz told ABC News. "It's a global problem. The business as usual isn't working for the BOP. They have to change that, and they have to address these very serious problems."
But BOP's problems extend beyond the dire need for physical repairs, extending to ongoing security problems that have allowed a steady stream of contraband like drugs, cell phones and weapons to enter several of the federal prisons the IG examined.
A 2021 search of a federal prison in Atlanta found 134 inmate-made weapons, marijuana, methamphetamines and enough prescription pills to fill two one-gallon bags along with 705 cell phones -- some hidden in prison walls.
"I'm not just talking about guns [and] knives. You clearly want that out of the prison," Horowitz said. "But what we're seeing is tobacco, which is often a currency in the prisons. We're seeing synthetic drugs coming in. We're seeing cell phones coming in a cell phone in a prison is a deadly weapon."
Cell phones in prison have proved deadly. In 2013, inmates at a federal prison in Puerto Rico were accused of using a cell phone to orchestrate the murder of corrections officer Lt. Osvaldo Albarati. Four inmates plead guilty for their roles in the plot.
The Inspector General found that more than half of the security cameras in the Atlanta facility were inoperable or malfunctioning. At MCC, there were "serious operational issues related to...camera functionality."
In a statement to ABC News, Bureau of Prisons Director Colette Peters said she is committing to work with the IG and Government Accountability Office in the areas highlighted in the report.
"The BOP will carefully evaluate and implement any necessary corrective actions to ensure that our mission of operating safe, secure, and humane facilities continue to be fulfilled," she said. "I am confident our processes and procedures now in place will ensure future success. We continue to take concrete steps that will not only meet but exceed the expectations of our external partners, and we will utilize the data gathered from the reports to optimize the allocation of resources."
Congress has set aside over $1 billion for BOP to construct two new institutions, but the funds remain largely unspent and the projects have remained in the planning stages for over a decade. BOP has asked Congress to cancel one project and revoke funding, but that request has not been acted on.
(WASHINGTON) -- A sharply divided Supreme Court on Thursday significantly rolled back federal safeguards for wetlands under the Clean Water Act, siding with Idaho property owners in a decision that curbs Environmental Protection Agency power.
The case, Sackett v. EPA, pitted Michael and Chantell Sackett against EPA regulators over a bid to build a family home adjacent to Priest Lake in northern Idaho.
The government said their land qualifies as a protected wetland, requiring an expensive permit for construction, while the family argued that its property is not directly connected to the lake and that the broad EPA regulations are an overreach.
The Clean Water Act of 1972 allows the government to set rules for pollution in "waters of the United States," but for years, the extent to which adjacent wetlands are covered by the law has been hotly debated and unclear.
In 2017, a fractured Supreme Court said that the EPA can regulate any wetlands with a "significant nexus" to navigable waters, like rivers, lakes and oceans.
But Thursday, Justice Samuel Alito, writing for a five-justice majority in the Sackett case, said the existing standard is too broad, too difficult to enforce and too "precarious" for property owners.
"We hold that the [Clean Water Act] extends to only those wetlands that are as a practical matter indistinguishable from waters of the United States," Alito wrote.
He said the EPA could only regulate wetlands adjacent to a "relatively permanent body of water connected to traditional interstate navigable waters" and having a "continuous surface connection with that water, making it difficult to determine where the 'water' ends and the 'wetland' begins."
"Wetlands that are separate from traditional navigable waters cannot be considered part of those waters, even if they are located nearby," Alito wrote.
The decision will in effect significantly reduce the number of wetlands protected by the Clean Water Act. It will also provide property owners with greater clarity and flexibility in utilizing their land free from government regulation.
"The Court's ruling returns the scope of the Clean Water Act to its original and proper limits," said Damien Schiff, a senior attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation who argued the case. "Courts now have a clear measuring stick for fairness and consistency by federal regulators. Today's ruling is a profound win for property rights and the constitutional separation of powers."
Alito was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett in adopting the new, more stringent "continuous surface connection" standard for which wetlands are protected.
All of the justices agreed that the Sacketts' property, specifically, should not have been regulated as a wetland under the Clean Water Act, but Trump-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined liberal Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson in strongly arguing that the majority had gone too far with its reasoning.
"By narrowing the Act's coverage of wetlands to only adjoining wetlands, the Court's new test will leave some long-regulated adjacent wetlands no longer covered by the Clean Water Act, with significant repercussions for water quality and flood control throughout the United States," Kavanaugh wrote for the minority.
EPA administrator Michael Regan said the agency was disappointed by the high court's decision and that it "erodes longstanding clean water protections."
"The Biden-Harris Administration has worked to establish a durable definition of 'waters of the United States' that safeguards our nation's waters, strengthens economic opportunity, and protects people's health while providing the clarity and certainty that farmers, ranchers, and landowners deserve," Regan said in a statement. "These goals will continue to guide the agency forward as we carefully review the Supreme Court decision and consider next steps."
The White House said the decision "aims to take our country backwards."
"It will jeopardize the sources of clean drinking water for farmers, businesses and millions of Americans," press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at her on-cam briefing Thursday afternoon.
Environmental groups said the decision is a huge setback.
"The Sackett decision undoes a half-century of progress generated by the Clean Water Act. Almost 90 million acres of formerly protected wetlands now face an existential threat from polluters and developers," said Sam Sankar, vice president of Programs at Earthjustice, an advocacy group that had weighed in on the case.
Sierra Club Executive Director Ben Jealous said the weakened rules would have a direct impact.
"Millions of Americans will have less safe drinking water than the generation before them," Jealous said in a statement. "This fight is far from over."
Biden administration lawyers are "carefully reviewing the decision," per Jean-Pierre.
ABC News' Benjamin Gittleson contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) -- Seeking to strike a reassuring tone despite days of negotiations, President Joe Biden said Thursday afternoon that he's had several "productive conversations" with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and their teams are "making progress" on debt ceiling talks as the country inches closer to default.
"I've made it clear time and again: Defaulting on our national debt is not an option," Biden said as he delivered remarks in the Rose Garden before nominating a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But an agreement still remains elusive with just seven days until potential default. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen maintains that the U.S. government could run out of cash to pay all its bills in early June, possibly as soon as June 1.
House members left town on Thursday for Memorial Day weekend but were told to be ready to return if a deal is reached.
"It is time for Congress to act now," Biden said in the Rose Garden. "I want to be clear: The negotiations we're having with Speaker McCarthy is about the outlines of what the budget will look like, not about default. It's about competing visions for America."
"The only way to move forward is with a bipartisan agreement," he added. "And I believe that we'll come to an agreement that allows us to move forward and that protects the hardworking Americans of this country.
Earlier Thursday, McCarthy told ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott that "every hour matters" as the clock ticks toward June 1.
The speaker also expressed optimism the two sides will come to a solution, though he dodged questions on the narrowing timetable for Congress to be able to pass a deal.
"We worked well past midnight last night," McCarthy said. "And yesterday, I thought, was a very good day. We made some progress. There are still some outstanding issues, and I've directed our teams to work 24/7 to try to solve this problem."
A key Republican negotiator said there are still "fundamental disagreements" to resolve.
"Nothing's resolved. Nothing's resolved. And everyone wants to think you can lock up and bank something. You can't bank anything until you actually have a complete deal," said Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina.
Asked if he was confident a deal would be reached by this weekend, McHenry replied, "I'm still trying to work for the deal. And it looks very difficult because it's very difficult subjects that we're dealing with. I don't think there's I've made no secret about this. It's not a position I wanted us to be in."
Even if a debt ceiling deal is reached, Congress faces a serious time crunch to pass legislation before the end of the month. After a bill is drafted, McCarthy's pledging to give House members 72 hours to review it, a concession he offered to conservative hardliners roadblocking his speakership vote at the start of this year. Then the Senate will have to take up the bill before it goes to President Joe Biden's desk.
Complicating the matter further is the Memorial Day recess. The House will gavel out Thursday, and the Senate left town last week, though leadership in both chambers has directed lawmakers to be prepared to return to Washington immediately if a deal is struck.
Several Democrats have voiced frustration in recent days over the status of negotiation, with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., dinging McCarthy's plans to adjourn and excoriating Republicans for, in his words, making "unreasonable demands."
"It's my understanding that the designees of both President Biden as well as Speaker McCarthy will continue to talk, but it is unfortunate that House Republicans have chosen to get out of town before sundown," Jeffries said in a news conference.
He hit the GOP for a "manufactured crisis" over the debt ceiling, accusing the party of holding the economy hostage.
"Republicans are driving us down a dangerous road of default or have presented the American people with another unacceptable choice, which is devastating cuts to children, devastating cuts to Medicaid, devastating cuts to nutrition, devastating cuts to education, devastating cuts to public safety and devastating cuts to our veterans," he said.
Congressional Progressive Caucus leader Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington voiced similar concerns, warning Wednesday that progressives "are not going to take a deal that hurts working people."
Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., said he was "very concerned" that Biden was giving too much away in the negotiations.
Bowman added, "I'm advocating for the White House to ensure that we don't give away the house and default on our responsibilities."
Jeffries said Thursday that Biden "is continuing to hold the line" on the spending cuts Republicans are seeking.
Meanwhile, conservative hardliners are telling McCarthy to stand his ground, too. They say they are seeking to end Democrats' "addiction" to government spending, which they blame for inflation and other economic woes.
"Hold the line," said Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas.
"This White House is a mockery of leadership. So we should hold firm and actually lead the country. And we have the ability to do that," said Rep. Bryon Donalds, R-Fla.
As the politics play out, credit rating agency Fitch warned Thursday it was putting U.S. credit rating on watch for a possible downgrade.
Pressed for his reaction, McCarthy said he wasn't concerned.
"I am concerned about, at the end of the day, if you do not have a deal worthy of the American public, you should be worried about Fitch. I'm not," he said.
ABC News' Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) -- "The taxpayer must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, but no more."
With those words, Chief Justice John Roberts and a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday sided with a 94-year-old Minnesota woman who got no compensation when the government seized her home over a small unpaid tax bill and pocketed the profit.
In his opinion, Roberts said the state of Minnesota violated the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against government taking private property without "just compensation" in 2015 when it took Geraldine Tyler's one-bedroom condominium.
"A taxpayer who loses her $40,000 house to the state to fulfill a $15,000 tax debt has made a far greater contribution to the public fisc that she owed," Roberts wrote.
Tyler's legal team applauded the ruling as a victory for property rights.
"Today's decision is a major victory for property rights in the United States," said attorney Christina Martin with the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represented Tyler in the case before before the Court. "This decision affirms that property rights are fundamental and don't depend solely on state law. The Court's ruling makes clear that home equity theft is not only unjust, but unconstitutional."
Thomas Berry, a constitutional lawyer with the CATO Institute, a libertarian think tank, also celebrated the ruling, saying, "After this decision, states will no longer be able to get away with the pernicious practice of 'home equity theft.'"
The court rejected arguments made by Hennepin County, which seized the home, that Tyler essentially abandoned her property and could have sold it herself to pay the debt and keep any excess.
Roberts noted that Minnesota was also an outlier in not providing any opportunity for Tyler to obtain the excess after the state's sale. Thirty-six states and the federal government require that excess value be returned to the taxpayer, the court said.
"The County had the power to sell Tyler's home to recover the unpaid property taxes," Roberts wrote. "But it could not use the toehold of the tax debt to confiscate more property than was due."
The decision clears the way for Tyler to return to a lower court to seek compensation from the state. It also effectively strikes down the laws like Minnesota's, which has been branded as "equity theft" by critics.
So-called home equity seizure is legal in roughly a dozen states that authorize municipalities to take possession of a home in the event of delinquency, sell the property and keep the entirety of earnings, regardless of the value of the outstanding tax bill.
(WASHINGTON) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is set to forgo a traditional presidential campaign launch and will instead hold his "campaign kickoff" event next week in the key state of Iowa, according to campaign plans exclusively obtained by ABC News.
The May 30 kickoff event will begin a four-day swing through 12 cities and towns in the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which the campaign is billing as "Our Great American Comeback Tour."
"Our campaign is committed to putting in the time to win these early nominating states. No one will work harder than Governor DeSantis to share his vision with the country — he has only begun to fight," said campaign manager Generra Peck in a statement to ABC News about the plans.
During the tour, the Florida Republican governor will participate in a series of speeches, retail shops and fireside chats.
Although DeSantis has already visited key primary states over the course of the past few months, these will be his first visits as an official candidate for president.
Earlier this month, DeSantis was a special guest at Rep. Randy Feenstra's third annual Feenstra Family Picnic in Iowa and pitched a "positive alternative" to Republican voters.
DeSantis launched his 2024 presidential bid for the White House on Wednesday, releasing a video announcing his candidacy prior to the glitch-plagued Twitter Spaces campaign launch with Twitter owner and billionaire Elon Musk.
"I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback," DeSantis said during the Twitter Space.
"We know our country's going in the wrong direction. We see it with our eyes and we feel it in our bones," he said, going on to criticize current Democratic policies regarding the southern border, crime and public safety and the cost of living for middle-class families.
(WASHINGTON) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' novel way to kick off his 2024 presidential campaign -- via a live Twitter event featuring one of the world's most famous businessmen -- was hamstrung on Wednesday night by the most ordinary of internet obstacles: spotty technology.
But the glitchy affair, which also forced Twitter owner Elon Musk to abandon the streaming link he had teased to his tens of millions of followers, eventually became a dense discussion on policy and culture war issues.
DeSantis had planned to begin his audio-only appearance with Musk at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, though repeated issues and crashes stalled the start of the Twitter Spaces event for almost 30 minutes, after alternating stretches of silence and crackling audio.
At one point, the Spaces was abruptly ended and then restarted -- all as Musk and others could apparently be heard discussing the malfunctions behind the scenes.
Musk suggested during the broadcast that the problems were due to a strain on the platform's servers and "scaling issues" because his own account was involved and has a following of 140 million users.
The second iteration of the event, which started moments after the first ended, ran relatively smoothly for more than an hour.
After being reintroduced by moderator David Sacks, a tech entrepreneur and Republican donor -- who quipped that "I think we melted the internet" -- DeSantis declared, "I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback."
"We know our country's going in the wrong direction. We see it with our eyes and we feel it in our bones," he said, going on to criticize current Democratic policies regarding the southern border, crime and public safety and the cost of living for middle-class families.
He pledged to listeners that he would "restore sanity," fight "identity politics" and "build an economy where working Americans can achieve a good standard of living."
"Truth needs to be our foundation. Commonsense can no longer be an uncommon virtue," he said, adding, "In Florida, we proved it could be done."
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden lacked the "vigor" to lead while in turn letting himself be led by the "woke mob," DeSantis said. He never mentioned his primary GOP rival, former President Donald Trump, but criticized what he called a culture of losing among Republicans.
The Spaces had more than half a million users listening in the beginning and later on had about 300,000.
After DeSantis gave a brief stump speech about why he decided to run for president, the event segued into a moderated question-and-answer session where he addressed topics including COVID-19, his legal fight with Disney (ABC News' parent company), the news media, immigration and more.
A rising star in his party after pushing back on COVID-19 restrictions and saying he'd chart another path for his state, DeSantis cruised to reelection last year, as Florida increasingly leans conservative, a shift the governor credits in part to his own style.
He has built a national profile -- both popular and polarizing -- by fighting over LGTBQ issues and other Republican flashpoints, like the spread of what he calls a "woke" fixation among liberals.
Those same topics recurred during the Twitter event.
Among those who asked questions were conservative activist Christopher Rufo and former NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch.
DeSantis defended legislation he had signed about education and parental rights -- critics dubbed one such bill "Don't Say Gay" -- while forcefully pushing back against claims that those laws led to books being banned from schools.
"The whole book ban thing is a hoax," he maintained. "There has not been a single book banned in the state of Florida. You can go buy or use whatever book you want. What we have done is empowered parents with the ability to review the curriculum to know what books are being used in school."
The governor also responded to a recent NAACP travel advisory against Florida, accusing the group of "colluding with legacy media to try to manufacture a narrative" and saying its leaders were hypocritical.
The NAACP had warned the state was becoming "hostile toward African Americans" because of DeSantis' disdain for diversity and inclusion programs.
"The head of the NAACP lives in Florida, and a lot of their board members have put out on social media during my governorship Florida vacations where they seem to be having an awful good time," he said.
As the event wound down, Musk said that any other 2024 presidential candidates were welcome to the same live forum and he reiterated that he felt such an environment was important because it showed politicians how they were without coaching.
Earlier Wednesday, DeSantis filed paperwork for his presidential campaign with the Federal Election Commission. Shortly before his Twitter event, he released a video announcing his White House bid.
"Decline is a choice. Success is attainable. And freedom is worth fighting for," he said in the clip.
He enters the race as Trump's biggest challenger for the Republican nomination, early polling shows.
Both Biden and Trump's team quickly seized on the issues with the Twitter Spaces, as did some of DeSantis' other foes in the 2024 primary.
"Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that's just the candidate!" a Trump campaign spokesperson said in a statement, while Trump posted a mocking video online.
A spokesperson for Republican Nikki Haley's campaign tweeted, in a veiled barb: "We're so proud of @TeamHaley and our incredible campaign launch."
Tweeting a link to a donation page, Biden's campaign wrote on Twitter: "This link works."
"In true Ron DeSantis fashion, his presidential launch was quite literally not ready for primetime. Welcome to the race for the MAGA base, Ron!" Democratic National Committee spokesperson Ammar Moussa said.
Even some DeSantis supporters said they were dismayed.
One backer, a veteran GOP strategist who asked not to be quoted by name, said that "technical glitches are not good foreshadowing" and predicted it would be labeled a "#DeSaster," but said, "They'll spin it that the demand was too huge. He's too popular."
Later Wednesday night, DeSantis campaign spokesman Bryan Griffin issued a brief statement: "There is so much enthusiasm for Governor DeSantis' vision for our Great American Comeback that he literally busted up the internet. Washington is next."
(WASHINGTON) -- President Joe Biden plans to nominate Gen. "CQ" Brown, the current Air Force chief of staff, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the White House said Wednesday, elevating the four-star general to be the senior military adviser to the president.
Biden will announce his intent to nominate Brown in a Rose Garden ceremony on Thursday, the White House said.
At 61, Charles Quinton Brown Jr. would succeed Gen. Mark Milley as chairman if the Senate confirms him, and would be the second Black Joint Chiefs chairman after Army Gen. Colin Powell. Also, for the first time in history, the Pentagon's top two leaders, the current secretary of defense, Lloyd Austin, and the Joint Chiefs chairman, would be Black men.
An Air Force F-16 fighter pilot who became an officer after completing his undergraduate degree in engineering in 1984, Brown rose through the ranks to become a general in 2009. He held senior leadership roles in the Middle East beginning in 2015, and in 2018 took command of Pacific Air Forces, America's presence in the skies of the Indo-Pacific.
After being nominated by former President Donald Trump in 2020, the Senate confirmed Brown 98-0 to be chief of staff of the Air Force. His nomination now to lead the military's service chiefs comes as Milley's tenure comes to a mandated end in September. Milley came to have a notoriously strained relationship with Trump, who had chosen him to be chairman.
As Biden's senior adviser in uniform, Brown would be called to contend with a growing Chinese military presence where he once led American airmen, the Indo-Pacific.
Heather Wilson, a former congresswoman and secretary of the Air Force who served with Brown, told ABC News his experience in the region makes him a good fit for the moment.
"There is no more important adversary or potential adversary now than China," she said. "And he has that experience. I think even more than just understanding the strategic landscape of the Pacific, he has started to build relationships with our allies. And one of the things that America has that's an advantage is that we have allies. China generally does not. Their neighbors are afraid of them."
Brown's personal character would be a plus, Wilson said.
"This position, if he's confirmed, has a role in relationships with our allies in deepening those partnerships of trust. And if there's one thing CQ Brown has demonstrated it's that he's a man that you can trust. And I think that will be very important as we deepen our alliances in the Pacific," she said.
The threat is different from the one U.S. leaders have come to know in the Middle East, according to Wilson.
"I think that's a challenge because for the last thirty years, we have really been focusing on terrorist threats all around the world and not necessarily crisis or conflict with a near-peer adversary. That's different. Particularly, a technologically advanced near-peer adversary. So, he has to think about warfare in all of its domains. When we have not had to do that against ISIS and Al Qaeda," she said.
Brown, in a video message spread widely in June 2020, reckoned publicly with the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, an injustice he felt compelled to discuss as a senior military leader who was often the first or the only Black man in his position. He said his son asked him how the Air Force would respond to Floyd's killing, and he knew he needed to speak out.
"I'm thinking about how full I am with emotion not just for George Floyd, but the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd," he said. "I'm thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn't always sing of liberty and equality."
When Wilson saw the video, she said she "was really proud of him. He had a sense of what airmen needed to hear from him. And as a leader, he was in a unique position to stand up and say so. And – I think – I was really proud of him."
Wilson pointed to the admission of women to service academies for the first time in 1976 as the sort of breakthrough Brown's nomination represents.
"I think this country has benefited from that. We have a stronger national defense because you use the gifts that everyone brings to the table," she said.
Joining ABC's "GMA3" last February, Brown told ABC News, "You can only aspire to be what you can see. And hopefully by me being in this position, I'll inspire many young people to open doors for not just in the military, but just really across the country, to be in a great position to -- just like this."
Brown's "style is different," Wilson said. "But that's okay…Different secretaries of defense and different presidents need different things."
"One of the things that CQ does well is listen, and this is in a town where there's a lot more people who want to talk than listen and who listens and understands and synthesizes problems. He asks good questions and then is able to crystallize what the big issues are."
ABC News' Matthew Seyler and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are headed toward a clash in the 2024 GOP primary race and are already foreshadowing an intense conflict of personalities.
Their stances on tax and spending policies, however, aren't so different.
In a GOP largely remade by Trump's 2016 success, many leading conservatives have become aligned with him on the economy, including the Florida governor, who polls show is Trump's biggest competitor for the Republican presidential nomination.
DeSantis on Wednesday filed paperwork to begin his presidential campaign. Here's where he and Trump stack up in five key financial areas.
Social Security and Medicare
Republicans have historically promoted various types of changes to the country's entitlement programs, from cuts to raising the age to qualify for them, because they argue that doing so promotes the programs' longevity and decreases the size of the government.
However, both Trump and DeSantis are currently aligned in bucking those beliefs, instead advocating for the widely popular programs to remain as they are.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump emerged as -- and continues to be -- perhaps his party's loudest voice in favor of keeping the programs entirely intact.
"Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security," Trump said in a video message in January, early on in the ongoing talks in Washington over the debt and government spending.
"Cut waste, fraud and abuse everywhere that we can find it, and there's plenty of it," Trump said then. "But do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security, don't destroy it."
DeSantis has sounded similar notes.
"Look, I have more seniors here than just about anyone as a percentage," he said on Fox News in March. "We're not going to mess with Social Security as Republicans. I think that that's pretty clear."
However, both Trump and DeSantis have previously said different things on the issue.
While he was in Congress, DeSantis supported certain changes to Social Security, including backing nonbinding resolutions proposing raising the Social Security retirement age to 70 -- a record Trump has already attacked.
The resolutions that DeSantis supported also called for transitioning Medicare from a program funded by the government to one in which the government would allocate funds for beneficiaries to spend on private insurance.
Trump, too, has voiced support for certain reforms in the past.
In a 2000 book he wrote called "The America We Deserve," Trump backed raising the retirement age to 70 and called Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." He also said in 1999 that he was open to privatizing Social Security, though he said he didn't "like the idea."
Trump is likely to continue to boast about one of his signature legislative wins as president: a sweeping tax cut that he signed into law in 2017.
He and senior members of his administration at the time said the cuts would pay for themselves by sparking increased spending and growth. However, a recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that making permanent the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 would add $3.5 trillion to the nation's deficit.
DeSantis, meanwhile, voted for that legislation when he was in the House and co-sponsored the Fair Tax Act of 2015, which would have imposed a 23% sales tax as a replacement for "the current income and corporate income tax, employment and self-employment taxes, and estate and gift taxes" and halted funding to the Internal Revenue Service after 2019.
Trump's allies have hammered DeSantis over his past support for the 23% tax, with a political group that supports him dubbing the Florida governor in an ad as "Ron DeSalesTax," prompting the main pro-DeSantis super PAC to recirculate his support in past interviews for a "fair tax or a flat tax."
DeSantis earlier this year also proposed a plan that he claimed would provide $2 billion in tax relief and involved "a one year sales tax exemption on children's items like books and toys; a permanent sales tax exemption on baby and toddler necessities like clothing, cribs, and strollers; and an expansion of the annual Back to School tax holiday."
Trump upended Republicans' support for free trade deals, telling voters during the 2016 campaign that other countries were instead using such agreements to take advantage of the U.S. As president, he also started a trade war with China.
In a plan released in February, Trump called for a "new pro-America system of universal baseline tariffs on most foreign products" and the adoption of "a 4-year plan to phase out all Chinese imports of essential goods."
"My cutting-edge trade agenda will revitalize our economy by once again putting America first. We will quickly become a manufacturing powerhouse like the world has never seen before," Trump argued then.
DeSantis has said less on trade, though on a recent international trip he did call for more cooperation between Florida and South Korea in areas such as space and aviation.
While he was in Congress, he also urged for more protections for Florida farmers under the North American Free Trade Agreement, a deal that Trump scrapped while in office but replaced with a similar agreement.
Spending and the Federal Reserve
Neither Trump nor DeSantis has laid out detailed plans for how they'd tackle inflation, but their past comments give some indications on their views on government spending and monetary policy.
While he was president, Trump sharply criticized Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, pushing the Fed to lower borrowing rates both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. He joined many other political leaders in supporting direct government payments to Americans as a way of dealing with lost jobs and economic uncertainty during the public health crisis.
With Republicans now blaming federal spending under Democrats for high inflation, DeSantis could pose a contrast with Trump, who signed major omnibus packages into law in 2017 and 2018 as well as the government's initial wave of sweeping COVID-19 relief.
Trump had praised the $1.2 trillion bill signed in 2017 and lambasted the $1.3 trillion bill in 2018 before signing it. DeSantis voted against both pieces of legislation.
Trump and DeSantis have also criticized Powell, though Trump did name him to his current role.
Trump and DeSantis have found common ground on the issue of federal regulations.
The former president made a show of slashing red tape while in office and said in a policy rolled out in April that he would "bring the independent regulatory agencies, such as the FCC and the FTC, back under Presidential authority."
"No longer will unelected members of the Washington Swamp be allowed to act as the fourth branch of our Republic," he declared before vowing, if reelected, to reinstate an executive order from his term to scrap two old regulations for every new one implemented.
While in Congress, DeSantis took a similar position, supporting legislation mandating that any regulation determined to have significant economic impacts be subject to a vote by Congress before going into effect.
(WASHINGTON) -- Unless Washington reaches a deal on the debt ceiling, government payments millions of Americans rely on each month could be in jeopardy in little more than a week.
While the deadline politics play out in Washington, the uncertain timeline of exactly what happens next -- both with those payments and to people's bank accounts -- is only adding to growing anxiety.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen maintains the nation could be unable to pay all of its bills in early June, possibly as early as June 1, though the exact date remains unclear.
That means billions of dollars scheduled for programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as well as military salaries and veterans benefits, are at risk of going unpaid or being delayed if no agreement is reached.
President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have been adamant the U.S. won't default, but still remained "far apart" on a solution on Wednesday.
What would happen if they don't is uncharted territory: The nation has never defaulted on its debt.
"Right now, we have to remain optimistic that a deal is going to be struck," Rachel Snyderman, the senior associate director of economic policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told ABC News.
"But this goes to show that there is a significant cost to brinkmanship over the debt limit, and the confusion and the concern these episodes inflict is is not helpful to American taxpayers who don't have the luxury of choosing which bills they get to pay and don't at the end of the month," Snyderman said.
The Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank tracking federal cash flows, recently estimated a heightened risk for default between June 2 and June 13. If the Treasury can continue financing the government through June 15, the center and other analysts believe expected quarterly tax receipts will provide the government more time before default.
Payments at risk from June 1 to June 15
A major hurdle: Some $100 billion in payments are scheduled to go out June 1 and June 2, according to the think tank.
"We shouldn’t even be talking about this situation," Biden said earlier this month as he warned such payments were at risk if a default occured.
The heads of the U.S. military services said during a Council of Foreign Relations panel this week their operations would be affected if the debt ceiling is not raised.
"We've got to make sure that our troops get paid," said Gen. James McConville, the Army chief of staff.
McConville added, "You know, probably one of the best quotes I've ever heard was from a young specialist's wife in the 101st Airborne Division. [During one of the last government shutdowns] when the government [said there might not be] paychecks, and they said said [troops and their families] will get paid retroactively -- what she said is, 'My kids can't eat retroactively'."
Emotions are running high.
Illinois Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky, during a news conference with the House Progressive Caucus Wednesday, passionately relayed concerns she said she heard from one of her constituents, "Janet," who she said suffered from chronic mental illness and fears she won't be able to pay for rent, food or medications.
"There are a million Janets all over the world who are sitting at home, if they understand what is going on, and watching to see what the Republicans are going to try to do to them," Schakowsky said.
There is no roadmap for a default, but some have said the Treasury Department could prioritize which payments to make and which to ignore.
The Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee earlier this year advanced a bill that would require the Treasury to first pay all principal and interest on the national debt, then all Social Security and Medicare benefits.
But officials, including the Treasury secretary, have expressed skepticism about whether such prioritization is possible or legal.
"I would say that our payment systems have been constructed in order to pay our bills, not to decide which bills to pay and which bills not to pay," Yellen said Wednesday during a Wall Street Journal summit. "And so as a general matter, prioritization is not really something that's operationally feasible."
Asked whether Medicaid or Social Security checks would be prioritized after the "x-date" -- or date of default -- White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized prioritization is "not the plan."
"It is a recipe for economic catastrophe," she said on Wednesday.
Another potential option could be for the Treasury to delay all expenditures until there was enough revenue to cover an entire day's worth of payments.
Chris Campbell, chief policy strategist at the financial services firm Kroll and a former assistant Treasury secretary, previously told ABC News that "in the extremely unlikely event that [default] occurs, I'm certain that the Treasury Secretary would have a series of options at her disposal to be able to work through the challenges should that occur."
But Yellen on Wednesday reiterated the Treasury is "committed to not having missed payments and raising the debt ceiling."
"We are not involved in planning for what happens if there is a default," she said.
ABC News' Luis Martinez and Chris Boccia contributed to this report.
(WASHINGTON) -- After three weeks of negotiations and eight days from a possible default, as of Wednesday there was still no breakthrough in talks to avert potential financial catastrophe as soon as June 1.
Shortly before noon, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters he was sending his House Republican bargaining team to the White House "to try to finish out negotiations."
"There’s a number of places that we are still far apart," he said. "I mean, it didn’t seem like it’d be this hard."
Lead GOP negotiator Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina said he was "hopeful that we can get this resolved" as he left the Capitol, a notable shift from Tuesday night when he was clearly more frustrated. But he and his fellow negotiator Garrett Graves of Louisiana acknowledged there's little time left.
The Republican team was seen leaving the White House after about fours and made no comment.
The House is set to leave Washington Thursday for a week-long Memorial Day recess, although members have been warned they could be called back.
"Look, you can start counting the days and there's no question, we're getting to crunch time," said another GOP negotiator, Graves said. "We've been trying to look at things differently, trying to come up with new ideas. We recognize the urgency here, but we also recognize the House with a solid package on the table that saves funds."
Earlier, as McCarthy made his way into the Capitol, ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott asked him where things stand.
"I still feel they're productive -- the talks," he said, but there were no signs the talk were any closer to a deal.
In fact, McCarthy said he has not spoken to President Joe Biden since Monday.
Both sides appeared to be waiting for the other to blink.
"I'm hopeful that they come back that they realize what the American public is telling them as well, that you cannot have the highest percentage of debt and spend the most amount of money while you're getting the most amount of revenue in, that you got to change that behavior, just like you would do in any household," McCarthy said. "And I'm hopeful as they come, if they come back today that they realize that."
As the standoff over federal spending continued, the White House has offered to freeze spending while Republicans are demanding deep cuts, according to a source familiar with the discussions. McCarthy is "beholden" to MAGA extremists, the source said.
"Well, the point you have to make, here we are eight days away. Why are we here? The Democrats do not want to come off their spending addiction," McCarthy said.
Asked how much in federal spending Republicans want to cut, he said, "Well, that's part of negotiation. Democrats don't even want to spend less, they want to spend more, that's unreasonable," he said.
He again made it clear increasing tax revenue is not on the table.
"Find ways to eliminate the waste. And that's what we've been doing. That's why on February 1, I sat with the president. That's exactly what I said to him. We can't raise taxes, and what's he talking about now? We need to raise more because I want to spend more after you've already done that, you set all the records you want to set, once the Democrats took the majority, this is what they brought us. And in doing so they brought us inflation, hurting every family," he said.
The frustration among some Democrats was palpable as over 20 members of the House Progressive Caucus voiced their concerns Wednesday over the debt ceiling negotiations.
"We will not let Speaker McCarthy burn the House to the ground and then try to get away with blaming the firefighters," Caucus Whip Rep. Greg Casar said. "I will be clear, working families will not be taken hostage. Progressives will continue standing strong and we will do everything we can to hold them accountable."
With time running short, caucus members are standing firm members in saying they will not support a deal that has stricter work requirements for some Americans getting government aid.
"Our overwhelming majority of Progressive Caucus members -- of 102 members -- answered that question already and said that is unacceptable," chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., told ABC's Scott.
"We have continued to make our position clear to the White House and I think you've seen that they've heard us and they've made a number of statements," she said.
"The bottom line is we just don't share their values," Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts said of House Republicans. "And you know, and I have to tell you, if we're not about defending the most vulnerable in this country, and helping to uplift them, then I don't know what the hell we're here for."
Both Biden and McCarthy will need some House Democrats to help pass any deal.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday tripled down on her warnings that June 1 might be the day the U.S. could default on its debt, even, she said, if it's "hard to be precise" about what happens around that date.
Yellen, speaking at a Wall Street Journal forum, was reluctant to discuss a "day-after" scenario in the wake of a U.S. default but allowed that Treasury would have to be ready to prioritize some bills over others.
She said payment prioritization is "not operationally feasible" -- emphasizing how unprecedented a default would be.
ABC News' Lauren Peller, Justin Gomez and Chris Boccia contributed to this report.