Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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Biden and McCarthy will meet as the debt ceiling expires

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met Monday afternoon to discuss the way forward to avert a potential crisis. credit limit The breach failed to produce a deal, but both sides agreed that the talks were “productive”.

“We don’t have an agreement yet, but I think the discussions were productive in areas where we have differences,” McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters after leaving the Oval Office. It was better than any other night involved in our discussions.”

A White House official said disagreements remained, but echoed the speaker’s assessment that the meeting was “productive” overall, a term that continued as negotiators continued.

It was a “concrete” and “respectful” conversation, the official said.

Biden, who did not make public comment, reiterated in a statement that the talks were “productive”, adding that talks between staff negotiators would continue.

With only days left until a June 1 deadline when the Treasury Department may be unable to pay the nation’s bills, there is growing urgency for Biden and McCarthy to find a way to raise the government’s borrowing limit.

McCarthy repeatedly stopped short of giving assurances that the two sides would reach an agreement in time, saying he wished they had started talks before the final hour. He ruled out new revenue cuts along with military spending to reduce the deficit, which – along with his promise not to cut Social Security and Medicare – would have left a limited slice of the US domestic budget on the chopping block. Is. McCarthy also said that he does not support a short-term extension of the debt ceiling deadline to buy time for both sides, and to give members time to read an agreement before voting on the bill. Promised to respect the rule of the hour.

Biden said before the meeting that he was “optimistic” about progress and told reporters in the Oval Office that default was not an option.

“There will be a real kick in the economic well-being of the American people,” Biden said. “Actually, so will the rest of the world.”

Asked whether an agreement on overall spending could break the impasse, Biden said that “alone” would not be enough. The president said he also wants to close the tax “loophole and make sure the wealthy pay their fair share.”

Both sides agreed that reducing the deficit is a priority, he said, but differed on measures to cut spending and raise revenue.

“While there are areas of disagreement, the president and I, and his key negotiators Chairman McHenry and Congressman Graves, and our staff will continue to discuss the way forward,” Biden said in the statement.

“We have a disagreement,” McCarthy said, adding that revenue has been increased. But the speaker said he and Biden “both agree that we need to change the trajectory, that our debt is huge.”

Earlier, McCarthy has said he is pushing for an agreement to “spend less” than current levels in a deal, though when asked whether the total amount would be close to the levels for this year and fiscal 2022. If somewhere in the middle, he was silent. McCarthy drew a line against military spending cuts ahead of the meeting with Biden: “I don’t think you should be putting America in danger. For me, it’s off the table.

The White House is eyeing health savings as an area for compromise with Republicans, according to a source familiar with the talks, as the two sides seek to bridge a trillion-dollar policy gap. The savings would target areas of federal programs like Medicare Part B where the government is seen as overpaying private healthcare companies, this source said.

Most importantly, the source said, such “savings” would be considered “revenue” for the Democrats in these talks — thereby providing a win-win for both sides.

A big outstanding question is whether Biden and McCarthy can reach an agreement that has the votes to pass the Republican-led House and Democratic-controlled Senate in a short amount of time. And if a bill passes with a majority Democratic vote in the House, will McCarthy face a backlash from his hardline members. The push for sharper budget cuts has become a source of tension inside the Republican caucus, as some conservatives fear McCarthy may be willing to make a deal with Biden that doesn’t go far enough.

a White House official said before sitting that a “fair settlement” was still attainable, despite obstacles to reaching a deal both parties could agree to. The official said there is hope that Biden and McCarthy can come to an agreement on spending.

McCarthy had said he hoped they would find “common ground” on a deal that would reduce inflation, reduce dependence on China, and raise the ceiling while working to “make” the Congressional spending process.

The speaker has said that “decisions have to be made” in time to avert a crisis and that he understands that Republicans “don’t control the Senate and we don’t control the presidency.”

McCarthy must navigate the demands of conservative hard-liners in his narrow majority, who are pressing for tough spending cuts and say the bill passed by the House, called the Limit, Save, Grow Act, sets the standard. Must be for which they hold. Any deal.

Biden is facing anger from his party’s left wing over some of the GOP’s demands, such as stricter work requirements for federal aid programs. Many progressives, uncomfortable with the negotiations, have called on the president to invoke the 14th Amendment and unilaterally deal with the debt ceiling.

“I’m looking at the 14th Amendment to see if we have a right. I think we have a right,” Biden said at a news conference in Hiroshima on Sunday. “The question is: can it be done and be applied in time that it cannot be appealed, and as a result, the date in question has passed, and the loan is still in default? This is a question that I think is unresolved.

The meeting followed a frantic few days of staff-level talks between the White House and Republican leaders.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y, adjourned the chamber for a previously scheduled recess last week but told senators to be ready to return within 24 hours’ notice.

Talks have been in turmoil in recent days over a core dispute over how much the federal government should spend in the next financial year. McCarthy and the Republicans want a big cut that the Democrats have been reluctant to give. Democrats calculate that Republicans are proposing cuts in discretionary spending of 22% If military programs are defunded, as many in the GOP want.

Speaking in Hiroshima, Japan, on Sunday, Biden argued that Republicans’ “extreme positions” were stalling progress.

“I’ve done my part,” Biden told reporters. “Now the time has come for the other side to go. There are more extreme positions, because what he has already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable.

Biden, returning Sunday from the G-7 summit in Japan, had a phone call with McCarthy that the speaker described as “very productive” and included a request to meet with the president.

Arriving at the Capitol on Monday morning, Rep. Patrick McHenry, RNC, a McCarthy ally, told reporters that the call “got us back in the room together.”

Biden appeared less certain over the weekend that he would do whatever was necessary to avert a Republican default, warning that “he cannot guarantee” Republicans will not force a situation where the government cannot pay its bills. unable to.

But the president said Monday that he and McCarthy discussed the “need for a bipartisan agreement” that could pass both chambers.

“We need to be in a position where we can sell this to our constituencies,” Biden said. “We are very well divided in the House, almost down the middle. And it’s no different in the Senate. So we have to get something that we can sell to both sides.”