Biden and McCarthy to resume talks Monday as debt default deadline looms

FAN Editor

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Biden will meet Monday to resume talks on how to avoid a catastrophic debt default as the June 1 deadline looms

McCarthy said Sunday that he had a “productive” call with Mr. Biden as the president returns from the G-7 conference in Japan. McCarthy told reporters that ahead of Monday’s meeting with Mr. Biden, he hopes the negotiating teams on Sunday can “walk through” their exact positions so they can accordingly explain them to Mr. Biden.

Earlier Sunday, Mr. Biden said at the G-7 summit that Republican leaders need to “move their extreme positions” to achieve bipartisan consensus and characterized previous proposals as “unacceptable.”   

Representatives from the White House and the Speaker’s office met briefly Friday after stalling earlier in the day, but negotiations broke down and both sides left without a deal. On Saturday, McCarthy tweeted that the White House is “moving backward in negotiations,” while White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said what McCarthy’s team had submitted “was a big step back and contained a set of extreme partisan demands that could never pass both Houses of Congress.”

Mr. Biden has cut several stops from the trip to continue talks with congressional leaders as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the U.S. could be unable to pay its bills and default on its debt as soon as June 1. 

Congress Debt Limit
Speaker of the Kevin McCarthy, R- Calif., walks out of his office to speak with members of the press after participating in a phone call on the debt ceiling with President Joe Biden, Sunday, May 21, 2023, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Walking behind McCarthy is Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., McCarthy’s top mediator in the debt limit talks. Patrick Semansky / AP

“I think we can solve some of these problems if he understands what we’re looking at, but I’ve been very clear to him from the very beginning,” McCarthy said Sunday. “We have to spend less money than we spent last year.”    

McCarthy didn’t elaborate further about the outcome of his discussion with Mr. Biden, saying “nothing has been agreed to.” The White House issued a short readout of the call, confirming McCarthy and Mr. Biden’s meeting on Monday and saying their staff will meet Sunday at 6 p.m. 

Before departing from Hiroshima, Japan, Mr. Biden said he had “done my part” in negotiating with Republicans, adding “now it’s time for the other side to move their extreme positions because much of what they’ve already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable.” 

Republicans want to raise the limit on the country’s borrowing authority in exchange for spending cuts, while Democrats, including Mr. Biden, want to increase the debt limit without any conditions attached. Mr. Biden insists raising or suspending the debt ceiling is Congress’ responsibility to handle, while Republicans say Mr. Biden and Democrats on Capitol Hill must compromise on spending.   

On “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Democratic Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey said that “we can’t continue to play chicken with the full faith and credit of the United States of America.” His Republican colleague, Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennyslvania, said he believed that the June 1 deadline may not be so strict.

“We should assume the date is June 1, but I think the math tells us that there is a little bit of wiggle room,” Fitzpatrick said. Still, he noted that the looming deadline in and of itself is not the only cause for swift action from Congress, referencing the 2011 debt ceiling crisis and its impact on the U.S. economy.  

Ellis Kim and Emily Mae Czachor contributed to this report. 

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