Biden, McCarthy to discuss debt limit in talks on Wednesday

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Sunday he looks forward to talking with President Joe Biden about a “reasonable and responsible way to lift the debt ceiling” when the two meet. Wednesday for their first meeting at the White House. since McCarthy was elected to the position.

McCarthy, R-Calif., said he wants to cut spending while raising the debt ceiling, even though the White House has ruled out linking those two issues as the government tries to avoid a potentially devastating financial default.

The speaker promised that cuts in social security and health insurance would be ruled out.

“I know the president said he doesn’t want to have a discussion (about the cuts), but I think it’s very important that our whole government is designed to find a compromise,” McCarthy told “Face the Nation” on CBS. “I want to sit down together, find an agreement that we can move forward on to put us on a path to balance and at the same time not jeopardize any of our debts at the same time.”

When asked if he would make a guarantee, McCarthy said, “There will be no default,” although he suggested the statement hinged on whether Biden and the Democrats were willing to negotiate.

After McCarthy revealed the upcoming reunion during the TV interview, the White House provided confirmation.

McCarthy was elected president in a historic ballot after midnight Jan. 7, overcoming resistance from his own ranks and tensions that have tested the new GOP majority’s ability to govern.

News of the long-awaited White House meeting comes at a time when the government is divided in Washington with a debt ceiling crisis brewing and House Republicans poised for confrontation.

McCarthy is eager to push Biden to the negotiating table, hoping to deliver on promises the GOP leader made to holdouts during his campaign to become president to cut federal spending to 2022 budget levels, which would represent a considerable budget reduction of 8%. .

The White House has made it clear that Biden is unwilling to accept political concessions in return for lifting the debt ceiling, which is the nation’s borrowing authority. The United States ran into that limit earlier this month, and the Treasury Department rolled out “extraordinary measures” to head off a potential default for at least a few more months.

Biden himself has scoffed at the idea of ​​negotiating spending cuts, telling Democratic congressional leaders last week that Republicans are “really serious about cutting Social Security and Medicare. illness”.

On Sunday, when McCarthy was asked if he would push any cuts to those programs, he said, “Let’s get them off the table.” Pressed on possible defense cuts he might have promised the House Conservatives, McCarthy replied, “I want to eliminate waste wherever it is. … I want to examine each department.

The upcoming debt limit showdown has a familiar precedent.

Just over a decade ago, a new generation of Tea Party House Republicans came to power, eager to take on the Obama administration to cut federal spending and rein in the country’s ballooning debt load. As vice president at the time, Biden was central to those negotiations. But House Republicans and the White House were never able to reach a deal, sparking a budget crisis. This time, Biden and his Democratic allies in Congress are in no mood to broker deals with a new era of hard-line Republicans led by the Freedom Caucus.

McCarthy pointed to Biden’s previous experience trying to negotiate spending cuts and said he hoped the president would be willing to listen again.

“I think the president will be ready to make a deal together,” McCarthy said.

In an interview with The Associated Press last weekend, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she expected Congress to eventually vote to raise the limit. But she said GOP demands for spending cuts in return for supporting an increase were “a very irresponsible thing to do” and risked creating a “self-imposed calamity” for the global economy.

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