WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 17: US President Joe Biden (L) and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) attend the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the US Capitol on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17 2023 in Washington, DC. Biden joined Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and other members of Congress for the traditional Friends of Ireland St. Patrick’s Day luncheon. (D-MA). (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON — White House negotiators and representatives for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy resumed debt ceiling talks Monday morning as President Joe Biden prepared to meet McCarthy face-to-face with just 10 days before the United States is in danger of default.
The talks came after a dramatic weekend in which talks broke down on Friday over an apparent deadlock over government spending levels but resumed several hours later.
Biden and McCarthy spoke by phone Sunday night, a conversation they called “productive” and could pave the way for early progress toward a deal in the first part of this week. Biden and McCarthy are scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. ET Monday in the Oval Office.
The White House team, which includes presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti, director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young and director of legislative affairs Louisa Terrell, declined to speak to reporters as they drove to to the Capitol to speak with McCarthy on Monday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated on Sunday that June 1 was the government’s “deadline” to raise the debt ceiling or deal with a likely first default on the national debt.
“We expect not to be able to pay all of our bills in early June, and maybe as soon as June 1,” Yellen told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“My assessment is that the chances of reaching June 15 and still being able to pay all our bills are quite low,” she said, with the caveat that there would always be uncertainty about the accurate income and payments.
Both Biden and McCarthy have acknowledged that one of the main sticking points in the talks remains the spending cap issue, a key GOP request but a red line so far for the White House. Raising the debt ceiling would not allow new spending, but Republicans have insisted on sweeping public spending cuts as part of a deal to raise the borrowing limit.
“The underlying problem here is that the Democrats, ever since they took the majority, have been addicted to spending. And that’s going to stop. We’re going to spend less than we spent last year,” McCarthy said. to reporters Monday morning at the Capitol. .
Biden hopes to reach a deal on the debt limit that would push the next deadline beyond the 2024 presidential election. But House Republicans, who so far have only approved a hike of a year, say if Biden wants more time, he’ll have to accept even more cuts.
Over the weekend, the president also faulted Republicans for demanding that huge swathes of federal discretionary spending be exempt from their proposed budget cuts, including defense and potentially veterans’ health benefits.
If those categories really were to be exempt, Biden explained, then cuts to all other discretionary spending would have to be much larger to make up the difference.
Broad cuts like these “make absolutely no sense,” Biden said Sunday in Japan, where he was attending the Group of Seven summit. “It’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no no bipartisan deal to be struck solely, solely, on their partisan terms.”