Biden and McCarthy at odds before meeting


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden seems optimistic about the chances of reaching a deal with Republicans to raise or suspend the debt ceiling in time to avoid the economic fallout from a potential U.S. debt default.

“I really think there’s a desire on their part, as well as ours, to come to an agreement, and I think we’ll be able to do that,” Biden told reporters Sunday in Delaware. As for his state of mind, he said, “I remain optimistic because I am a born optimist.”

Biden also called the ongoing talks between White House liaisons and congressional aides “negotiation,” a notable choice of words after months of insisting he would not “negotiate” on the debt limit. The president and the four top congressional leaders plan to meet again on the debt ceiling on Tuesday.

“I learned a long time ago, and you know it as well as I: it’s never good to characterize a negotiation in the middle of a negotiation,” Biden said in response to a question about the state of the negotiations. talks.

The president appeared to take his own advice on Monday when reporters asked Biden if he could provide updates on the budget talks. “No,” said Biden, who was on his way to Philadelphia for the day.

Biden’s remarks followed the postponement of a White House meeting originally scheduled for Friday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The White House said the three-day delay should be taken as a sign of progress in the talks. “The meetings have been productive over the past few days and the leaders wanted to continue before regrouping,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday.

Democrats have spent months blasting through House Republicans’ proposal, which demands sweeping federal spending cuts in exchange for an agreement to pass a higher debt ceiling. Last Thursday, Biden accused the House GOP of “holding our economy hostage.”

Against this backdrop of months of bitter partisan attacks, Biden’s sudden shift in tone on Sunday was striking.

But not everyone involved in the talks has such a sunny outlook.

“I still think we’re far apart,” McCarthy told NBC News outside the Capitol on Monday, adding, “It doesn’t look to me like they want a deal yet.”

“It looks like they want to look like they’re in a meeting,” McCarthy said. “They’re not talking about anything serious.”

While Democrats are reluctant to discuss the GOP’s sweeping plan to cut federal spending, Biden seemed willing on Sunday to accept specific Republican proposals.

When asked if he would consider a House GOP plan to strengthen work requirements for social safety net programs, Biden didn’t dismiss the idea out of hand, as did several high-profile Democrats.

Instead, he pointed to his own Senate record of voting for social work demands in the 1990s.

“I voted for tougher aid programs, it’s now in law, but Medicaid is a different story,” he said. “And so I’m waiting to find out what their exact proposal is.”

A Republican bill passed last month included tougher work requirements not only for Medicaid, but also for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds, as well as SNAP food stamps. The fact that Biden cut Medicaid, but not TANF and SNAP, offered a window into where Democrats might be willing to give a little.

Biden also said he plans to travel to Japan later this week to attend the G-7, a trip he previously said he could attend virtually if debt limit talks force him to. stay in Washington.

While McCarthy refrained from criticizing the president for traveling overseas during negotiations, he suggested that executives and staff should reach at least a short-term debt limit agreement by this weekend. -end in order to get a bill through Congress before a possible default date. it could happen as early as June 1.

“I think we need to get a deal done by this weekend,” McCarthy said, lamenting that the president “didn’t take it seriously.”

Investors watch the negotiations unfold. Shares fell Monday morning as investors chewed on comments from Biden and McCarthy.

This is a developing story, please check for updates.

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