Meeting between Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has said he and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy need a deal to raise the debt ceiling that “we can sell to both sides” of a deeply divided and hyper Congress. partisan.

“We still have some disagreements, but I think maybe we can get to where we need to go,” Biden said at the start of a much-anticipated meeting with McCarthy on Monday at the White House.

McCarthy shared Biden’s cautious optimism. “I think at the end of the day we can find common ground, make our economy stronger, take care of this debt, but more importantly get this government moving again to curb inflation, make us less dependent on China and make our credit system work.”

Shortly before the meeting, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reaffirmed June 1 as the earliest date, the United States could be at serious risk of default. Yellen’s last letter to congressional leaders was similar to letters she sent throughout the spring. But on Monday, there were two subtle differences.

The first was that Yellen called a possible default in early June “very likely”, whereas last week it was simply “likely”. In Monday’s letter, she also notably excluded a line from last week, which predicted that the emergency measures taken by the Treasury to cover public debts could extend the default period until June.

“The actual date by which the Treasury exhausts extraordinary measures could be days or weeks later than these estimates,” Yellen wrote in his letter to congressional leaders a week ago. But by Monday, his apparent optimism was gone.

McCarthy said Monday he thought June 1 was a hard deadline. He also acknowledged that the reality of the legislative process was beginning to weigh on his reckoning.

“I think we can get a deal tonight, we can get a deal tomorrow, but you have to do something this week to be able to get through it. [in the House] and move it to the Senate” in time to meet the June 1 deadline, he said.

The House is currently scheduled to leave for Memorial Day weekend, but McCarthy said he would keep the house in session for as long as it needed to pass a bill. “We will stay and do our job,” he said.

McCarthy spoke after three hours of negotiations between the White House and House Republican envoys on Monday. One of the GOP negotiators, Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C., later said he was “concerned about getting a deal that can be passed by the House, the Senate, and signed by the president”.

“It’s a complicated math, it’s true,” McHenry told CNN. “We are at a very sensitive point here, and the goal is to get something that can be legislated into law,” he added.

McHenry was joined in the talks by Rep. Garret Graves, R-La. The White House team is made up of presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti, director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young and director of legislative affairs Louisa Terrell.

Yellen has repeatedly warned Congress and the public that the United States faces a tough deadline to raise the debt ceiling before early June.

“We expect not to be able to pay all of our bills by early June, and possibly as early as June 1,” Yellen said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“My assessment is that the chances of reaching June 15 and still being able to pay all our bills are quite low,” she said, with the caveat that there would always be uncertainty about the accurate income and payments.

Both Biden and McCarthy have acknowledged that one of the main sticking points in the talks remains the spending cap issue, a key GOP request but a red line so far for the White House. Raising the debt ceiling would not allow new spending, but Republicans have insisted on sweeping public spending cuts as part of a deal to raise the borrowing limit.

“The underlying problem here is that the Democrats, ever since they took the majority, have been addicted to spending. And that’s going to stop. We’re going to spend less than we spent last year,” McCarthy said. to reporters Monday morning at the Capitol. .

Biden hopes to reach a deal on the debt limit that would push the next deadline beyond the 2024 presidential election. But House Republicans, who so far have only approved a hike of a year, say if Biden wants more time, he’ll have to accept even more cuts.

Biden and McCarthy’s meeting follows a dramatic weekend in which talks broke down on Friday over an impasse over government spending levels but resumed several hours later.

The two leaders then spoke on the phone on Sunday evening, a conversation they described as “productive”.

Over the weekend, the president faulted Republicans for demanding that huge swathes of federal discretionary spending be exempt from their proposed budget cuts, including defense and potentially veterans’ health benefits.

If those categories really were to be exempt, Biden explained, then cuts to all other discretionary spending would have to be much larger to make up the difference.

Broad cuts like these “make absolutely no sense,” Biden said Sunday in Japan, where he was attending the Group of Seven summit. “It’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no no bipartisan deal to be struck solely, solely, on their partisan terms.”

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