Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee said he thinks President Joe Biden’s offer to look at the GOP’s proposed spending cuts, but only after they pass a condition-free debt limit increase, is disingenuous.

“Look, this is a way for the White House to say, ‘heads we win, tails you lose.’ We’re not going to fall for that,” Lee told Fox News anchor Harris Faulkner on Wednesday.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Monday that the nation could default on its debt payments for the first time in history if the debt ceiling is not raised by June 1.

The GOP-controlled House passed a debt ceiling increase last week that is tied to nearly $5 trillion in government budget cuts over the next 10 years. But Biden promised to veto it and the Democratic majority in the Senate has so far declined to consider the Republican bill, saying government spending should be dealt with separately.

Lee said the House Republicans passed a “really good compromise” and that they are merely following the pattern then-Sen. Biden advocated for in the early 1980s, of tackling government spending and the debt limit at the same time.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York has filed a bill to pass a debt limit increase without spending reforms, but it doesn’t appear he has the votes to get it through the Senate.

In the Senate, a debt ceiling increase needs 60 votes, but with only a 51-seat majority, he’ll need at least nine Republican votes and all of the Democrats. However, California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s ill health might continue to preclude her from voting. Democratic centrist Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has urged Biden to negotiate with the GOP, and independent Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has signaled the same, according to reports.

Any hope the votes Biden needs will come from Senate Republicans appears doubtful. Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney, who helped Biden pass his landmark infrastructure bill last year, is backing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

When Politico recently asked Romney how he’d vote on Schumer’s debt ceiling bill, he said, “I’m supporting the House provision.”

Republican debt ceiling bill passes House, with support of 4 Utah congressmen
Biden and McCarthy set to meet over debt ceiling

Lee told Fox News he has a “growing list” of Republicans in the Senate who have signed on to his letter indicating they will not accept Biden’s demands. As long as 41 senators back the House’s negotiating position, Biden’s preferred clean debt ceiling option appears dead.

As time ticks closer to the nation’s debt default “x-date,” Lee said Biden is “playing chicken with the American economy.”

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Biden staffers have quietly been considering a constitutional challenge to the debt limit that would allow the White House to circumvent Congress and raise the debt ceiling unilaterally.

The theory that a debt ceiling is unconstitutional has been debated at length by legal scholars but never tested in court.

On a potential legal challenge, Lee said it is “utter science fiction fantasy and it’s dangerous. They’re wrong. They know they’re wrong, but they also know they’re losing the legislative debate, because the American people are demanding better as they suffer under the yoke of inflation.”

Biden is scheduled to meet with McCarthy next Monday at the White House to discuss fiscal policy.