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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Wednesday, a White House official confirmed to NBC News, amid Republicans’ debt-ceiling showdown with Democrats.
McCarthy first announced the meeting to discuss the debt ceiling in an interview CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier Sunday. The House speaker said Republicans would not allow the U.S. to default and 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 U.S. government hit its statutory debt limit earlier this month. The Treasury Department said at the time that it had begun resorting to “extraordinary measures” to pay the bills and that there is a June 5 deadline to act or risk default.
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, have not put forward a unified plan to cut spending, complicating McCarthy’s task of passing a bill with his narrow majority.
The White House previously said there won’t be any negotiations, and Congress must allow the government to pay its bills. Democratic leaders in the House and 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 that 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,’ the House speaker added.