House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) will meet with President Joe Biden on Monday after the two had what the former called a “productive” phone call to cap off a turbulent weekend of debt ceiling negotiations.
McCarthy put negotiations with the White House to avert a debt default on pause Saturday, saying talks would only continue once Biden returned from the Group of Seven leaders meeting in Japan on Sunday. The House speaker accused Biden’s negotiators of moving “backwards” while the White House called the GOP team’s latest offer a “big step back” that would not reasonably pass the Senate.
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“It’s time for another side to move from their extreme positions because much of what they’ve already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable,” Biden told reporters Sunday on the sidelines of the G7. “It’s time for Republicans to accept that there’s no bipartisan deal to be made solely on their partisan terms. They have to move as well.”
Their planned Sunday phone call allowed for representatives from both sides to return to the negotiating table through the rest of the weekend. White House counselor Steve Ricchetti, one of Biden’s three lead negotiators, told reporters while leaving the Capitol on Sunday evening that the team would “keep working tonight” as they try to hammer out a deal.
“He walked through some of the things that he’s still looking at he’s hearing from his members. I walked through things I’m looking at,” McCarthy said of his call with the president. “What I’m looking at are where our differences are and how could we solve those. And I felt that part was productive. But look, there’s no agreement. We’re still apart.”
A main area of disagreement between the two is spending. Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), McCarthy’s chief negotiator, has repeatedly emphasized that annual spending caps are a red line for House Republicans. Democrats call the caps too severe, while Republicans argue they don’t go far enough.
The president canceled planned visits to Australia and Papua New Guinea, scheduled for after the G-7, so he could return to address the debt ceiling matter. Biden will meet with McCarthy and their respective teams on Monday afternoon after he has been briefed on the latest developments.
The debt ceiling, or the top amount the federal government can borrow, will either need to be raised or abolished sometime next month to avert a default. Economists have long warned that such a default would wreak havoc on the economy. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says the United States will be unable to pay its bills by June 1.
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McCarthy was able to hold enough of the House Republican Conference together to pass his debt ceiling budget proposal late last month. Backed up by Senate Democrats, Biden stood firm in his refusal to negotiate over the debt limit for months. The White House has decried the GOP bill as an attempt at political “hostage-taking” and vowed that Biden would veto it if it reached his desk, though the likelihood of such legislation passing the Democrat-controlled Senate is slim.
Negotiations picked up in recent weeks as the deadline continues to approach, though no deal has been reached.