McCarthy, Biden, to Discuss Debt Limit in Talks on Wednesday

On Sunday, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he is looking forward to discussing a “reasonable and responsible way that we can lift the debt ceiling” with President Joe Biden when the two meet Wednesday at the White House for their first sit-down since McCarthy was elected to his position. 

McCarthy, who represents California, said he wants to address raising the debt limit and addressing spending cuts. However, the White House has ruled out tying those two issues together as the federal government tries to avoid a possibly devastating financial default. 

Speaker McCarthy pledged that Medicare and Social Security cuts would be off the table.

“I know the president said he didn’t want to have any discussion (on cuts), but I think it’s very important that our whole government is designed to find compromise,” said McCarthy. “I want to sit down together, work out an agreement that we can move forward to put us on a path to balance — and at the same time not put any of our debt in jeopardy at the same time.”

On Sunday, the White House confirmed the Wednesday meeting on “a range of issues.” It also said Biden is looking forward to “strengthening his working relationship” with Speaker McCarthy and to strengthening McCarthy’s plan on spending. 

“The President will ask Speaker McCarthy if he intends to meet his Constitutional obligation to prevent a national default, as every other House and Senate leader in U.S. history has done,” said the White House. “He will underscore that the economic security of all Americans cannot be held hostage to force unpopular cuts on working families.”

McCarthy anxious to make good on promises made during campaign for Speaker

Rep. McCarthy has been eager to get Biden to the negotiating table. He aims to make good on the promises the GOP leader made to House holdouts during his campaign to become Speaker.

The White House has made it clear that the president isn’t willing to consider policy concessions in exchange for lifting the debt limit, the U.S.’s borrowing authority. The Treasury Department has deployed “extraordinary measures” to hold off a possible default for at least a few months.

Representative Adam Smith of Washington, top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said his party is supportive of a clear financial plan for the future but maintains Republicans have not been genuine when addressing the issue. 

“We shouldn’t be negotiating over whether or not we should pay our bill. That’s our position,” said Smith. “Right now, the Republicans don’t have a plan. Their plan, as led by the extremists in their party, is complain about spending, not raise the debt ceiling, but not actually offer a plan that says, ‘This is what we’re going to cut.’”

 Rep. McCarthy pointed to the president’s previous experience trying to negotiate spending cuts and said he hopes Biden is open to listening again. 

“I think the president is going to be willing to make an agreement together,” said McCarthy.

Last weekend Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she expects Congress to vote to raise the limit ultimately. However, she said Republican demands for spending cuts in return for backing an increase were “a very irresponsible thing to do” and a risk to the global economy of creating a “self-imposed calamity.”