WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Wednesday, a White House official confirmed, amid Republicans’ debt-ceiling showdown with Democrats.
Biden will host McCarthy at the White House for a discussion about a variety of issues in one of a series of meetings with congressional leaders at the start of the new Congress, a White House spokesperson said Sunday. Biden met with Democratic leaders last week, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.
Biden will discuss his plans to grow the economy while bringing down the deficit, the spokesperson said. He will ask what McCarthy’s plan is, the spokesperson said, saying the first bill McCarthy put on the floor would increase the deficit by more than $100 billion.
Biden also plans to ask McCarthy whether he intends to meet his constitutional obligation to prevent a national default and not put the economic security of all Americans at risk, the spokesperson added.
McCarthy first announced he'll meet Biden this week to discuss the debt ceiling in an interview Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” He said Republicans wouldn’t allow the U.S. to default, and he expressed an interest in reaching an agreement with the president.
“I know the president said he doesn’t want to have any discussions, but I think it’s very important that our whole government is designed to find compromise,” McCarthy said. “I want to find a reasonable way we can lift the debt ceiling but take control of this runaway spending.”
The government hit its statutory debt limit this month. The Treasury Department said at the time that it had begun resorting to “extraordinary measures” to pay the bills and that the deadline to act or risk default is June 5.
House Republicans have been demanding spending cuts in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling and averting a default on U.S. debt. Party leaders, however, haven’t put forward a unified plan to cut spending, complicating McCarthy's task of passing a bill with his narrow majority.
The White House has said there won’t be any negotiations, and Congress must allow the government to pay its bills. Democratic leaders in the House and the Senate have backed Biden, demanding that McCarthy present his plan and pass it through the House before any discussions occur.
“I will not let anyone use the full faith and credit of the United States as a bargaining chip,” Biden said last week in his first major economic remarks of the year, arguing that GOP proposals would lead to higher inflation.
McCarthy swiftly rebuked Biden’s stance, saying he’s “disappointed” but remains determined in his demand for spending cuts.
“Here’s the leader of the free world pounding on the table, being irresponsible, saying, ‘No, no, no, just raise the limit, make us spend more.’ No. That’s not how adults act,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol last week. “Let’s find common ground, and let’s eliminate the wasteful spending to protect the hard-working taxpayers.
“So the longer he waits the more he puts the fiscal jeopardy of America up for grabs,” McCarthy added.