Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) finally met with President Joe Biden on Wednesday to negotiate on the president’s demands to raise the debt ceiling, which came after weeks of the Biden administration declaring that they would not negotiate to reduce wasteful spending and would only agree on raising the U.S. government’s borrowing limits.
White House Press Secretary Jean-Pierre: "We will not be doing any negotiation over the debt ceiling." pic.twitter.com/QWgHVlQzLF
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During initial talks on Wednesday about raising the debt ceiling, Biden and McCarthy found “common ground,” according to the House Speaker.
After the nearly one-and-a-half-hour meeting — which was described as a first test of how the president and the Republican House Speaker will work together — McCarthy told reporters: “The President and I had a good first meeting, I shared my perspective with him and he shared his.”
“I can see where we can find common ground,” he added.
The Democrat president is currently locked in a standoff against Republicans — who regained control of the House of Representatives following the November 2022 midterm elections — over raising the federal government’s debt ceiling, which already sits at a shocking $31.4 trillion.
Just before the meeting, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre changed her tune about the negotiations. Despite previously stating that there would be no negotiations, Jean-Pierre told reporters: “The president is looking forward to working closely and trying to figure out how we can deliver with Republicans who are willing to work in a good faith, bipartisan way.”
The discussions between McCarthy and Biden may be just the beginning of months of back-and-forth negotiation, as neither side expected a solution to be found in a single meeting.
If no action is taken, the federal government could lose the ability to pay all of its bills as early as June.
McCarthy expressed optimism that this crisis could be avoided.
“I believe if we’re able to get to an agreement, we could have a funding agreement for the next two years,” he said. “You’ll see the Senate and the House actually do the job the American public has elected us to do.”
Earlier, Biden stated that he would ask McCarthy for a specific budget plan and request that the House Speaker make a commitment to supporting the nation’s debt obligations — while the White House noted that Biden will only address Republicans’ demands for federal spending cuts after he gets what he wants: an increase in the debt ceiling.
Meanwhile, House Republicans are seeking to use the debt ceiling as leverage to demand cuts in wasteful spending, though they have not yet united around a specific plan.
According to Newsmax, the increase in the debt ceiling “covers the costs of spending programs and tax cuts previously approved by Congress, and is usually approved on a bipartisan basis.”
McCarthy appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” on Wednesday evening to discuss the negotiations.