President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy held a crucial meeting at the White House on Monday evening in a race against time to reach a deal on the impending debt ceiling issue. Following the meeting, McCarthy expressed optimism and stated his intention to engage in daily discussions with the president until an agreement is reached. When asked about the inclusion of work requirements for assistance programs like food stamps, McCarthy clarified that no specific agreements had been made yet.
McCarthy emphasized the importance of finding a bipartisan agreement that can secure the support of both Republicans and Democrats. He noted that the meeting was more productive than previous ones, as they had engaged in meaningful discussions to address areas of disagreement and exchange ideas.
President Biden also described the meeting as productive and highlighted the shared understanding that default is not a viable option. Both the president and the speaker acknowledged the necessity of reducing the federal deficit, although they held differing views on tax loopholes. Despite the disagreements, they expressed hope for progress.
McCarthy clarified to reporters that a clean debt ceiling increase, without any additional provisions, was not on the table, even if a last-minute deal could not be reached. He emphasized the need to find a solution to the problem rather than wasting time on something that would not pass in Congress.
President Biden cut short his Asia trip and returned from Japan to focus on the negotiations before the June 1 deadline. He spoke with McCarthy over the phone during his return flight, and designated negotiators from both sides have been working toward an agreement framework.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated the urgency of the situation, warning that the U.S. could default on its debt as early as June 1. However, the date could still be subject to change, and passing any legislation through both chambers of Congress will require additional time, even after an agreement is reached.
Negotiations appeared to reach an impasse on Friday, leading to a temporary pause in talks. McCarthy took to Twitter on Saturday, blaming the “socialist wing of the Democrat Party” for the stall and accusing the White House of moving backward in negotiations.
Republican Representative Patrick McHenry described the negotiations as being at a sensitive stage. A White House official confirmed that both the speaker and the president agreed that the final agreement should be bipartisan. However, the official claimed that the speaker’s team deviated from some of the options under discussion toward the end of the week. These included additional cuts to food assistance not present in the House-passed bill, as well as longer-term caps on annual funding compared to recent budget deals.
President Biden, speaking at a press conference in Hiroshima, Japan, announced over $1 trillion in proposed spending cuts and urged the other side to moderate their extreme positions, as some of their proposals were deemed unacceptable. Regarding the G-7 talks, the president could not guarantee that the U.S. would avoid a debt default, expressing concern that Republicans might engage in outrageous actions that could force such a situation.
Despite these challenges, both President Biden and Speaker McCarthy expressed a commitment to finding a resolution to the debt ceiling issue. The negotiations continue as the deadline looms, and the focus remains on striking a bipartisan agreement that addresses the concerns of both parties.