McCarthy Says He'll Meet Biden for Debt Limit Talks on Feb. 1

  • In World
  • 2023-01-29 16:42:01Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden have agreed to meet on Feb. 1 to discuss raising the US debt ceiling, reducing government spending and avoiding a sovereign default.

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"We're going to meet this Wednesday," McCarthy said on CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "I want to find a reasonable and a responsible way that we can lift the debt ceiling" and "take control of this runaway spending."

The planned meeting, which was confirmed by a White House official, will pit McCarthy's call for spending cuts as a condition of any deal against Biden's refusal to treat the federal debt ceiling as a bargaining chip.

In a statement on Jan. 20 looking ahead to the McCarthy talks, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized Biden's stance that "the debt ceiling is not a negotiation" but "an obligation of this country and its leaders to avoid economic chaos." Biden expects Congress to "do their duty" and raise the ceiling, she said.

McCarthy said that while reductions in Social Security and Medicare should be "off the table," all discretionary spending, including the US defense budget, should be reviewed for waste. The California Republican declined to speculate on the chances of a short-term extension of the federal debt ceiling, a stopgap that House Republican leaders are considering proposing.

"Now I know his staff tries to say something different, but I think the president is going to be willing to make an agreement together," McCarthy said. "I'm hopeful."

"We're not going to default," he said.

After a hard-fought battle to win the House speakership, McCarthy is under pressure from his caucus to win spending cuts. And a group of two dozen Republican senators warned Biden last week they won't support a debt-ceiling increase without "structural" changes to US spending.

The US can't "continue just to spend more money and leverage the debt and the future of America," McCarthy said Sunday. "We've got to get to a balanced budget."

(Updates with White House official's confirmation in third paragraph. An earlier version corrected McCarthy's title.)

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