Biden and McCarthy to Meet in Hopes of Reviving Debt Talks
President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are scheduled to meet Monday afternoon to resume talks to avoid a default after negotiations stalled over the weekend.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the White House and comes after negotiators clashed over Republican demands for spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Later on Sunday, Mr Biden spoke with Mr McCarthy on a flight home from a summit in Japan, saying it “worked well”.
Hopes of a breakthrough have dwindled in recent days after McCarthy and negotiators declared a “pause” in talks as the U.S. threatened to default on its debt for the first time. He and his aides have accused White House officials of being unreasonable and unwilling to cut spending to last year’s levels, one of the key Republican demands.
That sparked a back-and-forth debate, with Mr. Biden’s aides countering that Republicans are backing down on key areas of the negotiations. Progressives are urging the president to consider invoking a 14th Amendment clause that would force the government to continue issuing new bonds if cash runs out. But Mr. Biden has expressed open skepticism that the measures will work.
“We are looking at the 14th Amendment as to whether we have the authority,” he said at a news conference with reporters in Hiroshima, Japan, over the weekend. “I think we have the authority. The question is, can it be done and invoked within the time limit that it could not have been – not appealed and consequently defaulted even past the time limit in question? will be.”
McCarthy looked brighter after meeting with Biden on Sunday, after agreeing to meet with him. The president “really looked at some of the things that are still under consideration, what I’m hearing from members. I’ve really looked around what I see,” McCarthy said. “That part felt productive. But look, there’s no agreement. We’re still apart.”
Among the most important open questions is how much to spend on discretionary programs over the next fiscal year and how long spending caps should be in place. The White House’s latest proposal would hold both military spending and other spending, including on education, scientific research and environmental protection, flat from one fiscal year to the next. Republicans still want more military spending, so they argue that overall discretionary spending will fall.
The number of days before Congress votes to raise the debt ceiling by the scheduled June 1 deadline is rapidly dwindling. Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said in an interview: NBC News Last weekend, it said it was “very unlikely” to reach mid-June before the government defaulted.
Once negotiators agree to an agreement, it takes time to translate it into legal text. McCarthy promised lawmakers 72 hours to consider the bill.