© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden talks with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as they depart following the annual Friends of Ireland luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 17, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A debt limit meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and top lawmakers including Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy has been scheduled for 3 p.m. ET (1900 GMT) on Tuesday, a senior administration official said.
The meeting was previously scheduled for last Friday, but was postponed.
Aides from both sides have been discussing ways to limit federal spending, as talks on raising the government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling to avoid a catastrophic default creep forward.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy are set to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss the looming deadline to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.
The two are scheduled to meet at the White House at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the unprecedented economic and fiscal challenges the nation faces — including its current debt limit of $6.4 trillion — and what would be the best path forward to confront them.
The nation has had to raise its debt ceiling several times since the Obama administration, and the government’s current debt exceeds the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority for the first time since 1979.
The president is urging lawmakers to pass legislation by the May 19 deadline to ensure the government can make good on its bills, but Republican lawmakers are balking at the notion of lifting the debt ceiling without making significant spending cuts.
At a press conference last week, Biden expressed his desire to have a “good-faith” dialogue with both sides.
“I don’t think it prudent or wise to use the debt ceiling for leverage, but I do think that it’s important for Congress to have an honest, good-faith conversation regarding the spending levels going forward,” the president said.
The meeting between the president and McCarthy comes as Congress has yet to pass a spending deal that would keep the government up and running past September. It also marks a change of tone from McCarthy, who has previously been skeptical of the administration’s proposed spending increases.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement Monday night that the meeting between the two lawmakers was an “important step” to finding common ground.
“The president is committed to working together with both parties to reach a solution that addresses our debt responsibly, puts our nation on sound fiscal footing, and helps our economy grow — and looks forward to a productive conversation,” Psaki said.
The meeting comes at a critical time for both the White House and the Republican Party, as Democrats control the House, Senate and White House for the first time since 2009. If the two sides can’t come to an agreement, it could lead to a possible government shutdown or default on the national debt.