Kevin McCarthy says NOTHING has changed after Biden debt ceiling meeting


Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the other three congressional leaders met with President Joe Biden to discuss the debt limit Tuesday afternoon, but the House GOP leader said there wasn’t ‘any new movement’ that came out of the discussion despite there being less than three weeks before the U.S. defaults on $3.1 trillion in debt.

McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at a press gaggle after the meeting with Biden, followed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

‘Everybody in this meeting reiterated the positions they were at. I didn’t see any new movement,’ McCarthy said. 

Asked if the leaders were any closer to a deal, McCarthy said, ‘Well, we met. So that’s closer.’  

Jeffries had a slightly more optimistic take, saying that Biden encouraged the leaders to discuss – starting either Tuesday night of Wednesday – a path forward around the budget and appropriations process. ‘That’s progress,’ the top House Democrat stated. 

The White House had previously demanded a ‘clean’ debt ceiling bill, divorced from any talk about budget cuts.  

The Congressional leaders also said that Biden would meet with them again on Friday. 

McCarthy revealed staff from both his office and the White House would gather together before then to again try to find a path forward. 

McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at a press gaggle following the meeting

McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell spoke at a press gaggle following the meeting

Democratic leadership appeared after the Republicans were through including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (left) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (right)

Democratic leadership appeared after the Republicans were through including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (left) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (right)

The speaker said he pressed Biden ‘numerous times’ on whether he would agree to any budget cuts or if there were any areas for agreement, but Biden didn’t have any specific proposals. 

Meanwhile, Schumer knocked McCarthy for not ruling out default regardless of the circumstances.

‘We explicitly asked Speaker McCarthy, would he take default off the table. He refused,’ the Democratic leader told the press. 

McCarthy insisted the House had done its duty to avoid default by passing a bill.  

The speaker’s bill that passed the House at the end of last month lifts the debt limit by $1.5 trillion in exchange for $4.5 trillion in spending cuts over time.

‘I was very clear with the president, we have now just two weeks to go. If Chuck Schumer could pass something – we’d go to conference right away – but I don’t think Chuck Schumer could pass anything, they haven’t dealt with it.’ 

The Senate hasn’t picked it up, as it will not pass.  

‘I don’t want to play politics with this, I think it’s too important,’ McCarthy added. 

He confirmed that the use of the 14th Amendment was not brought up during discussions. 

Democrats say they will only vote for a limit increase that is 'clean' and doesn't contain spending cuts

Democrats say they will only vote for a limit increase that is ‘clean’ and doesn’t contain spending cuts

The speaker (right) said he pressed Biden 'numerous times' on whether he would agree to any budget cuts or if there were any areas for agreement, but Biden didn't have any specific proposals

The speaker (right) said he pressed Biden ‘numerous times’ on whether he would agree to any budget cuts or if there were any areas for agreement, but Biden didn’t have any specific proposals

McConnell said ‘The United States is not going to default, it never has and it never will. However, elections have consequences and we now have divided government.’

‘So there must be an agreement. And the sooner the president and the speaker can reach an agreement, the sooner we can solve the problem.’  

Schumer said the leaders still have ‘legitimate differences,’ but is hopeful that there are ‘some places we can agree.’ 

Ahead of the meeting, Biden quipped that the group would ‘solve all the world’s problems.’ 

‘I’m sure that my colleagues and I will be saying things to you after this is all over … We’re not going to be taking any questions now. We’re going to get started, we’re going to solve all the world’s problems,’ the president said.

'I'm sure that my colleagues and I will be saying things to you after this is all over ... We're not going to be taking any questions now. We're going to get started, we're going to solve all the world's problems,' the president quipped at the start of the sit-down

‘I’m sure that my colleagues and I will be saying things to you after this is all over … We’re not going to be taking any questions now. We’re going to get started, we’re going to solve all the world’s problems,’ the president quipped at the start of the sit-down

The four congressional leaders are meeting for the first time to discuss raising the debt limit

The four congressional leaders are meeting for the first time to discuss raising the debt limit 

In photographs McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell can be seen in the Oval Office seated on couches opposite their Democratic counterparts – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries while Biden sits in a chair at the head of the discussion.

Asked about the tone of the meeting, Biden said that three of the four participants were ‘very measured, low-key.’ Occasionally there would be a little bit of an assertion from the speaker that was maybe a little over-the-top.’ 

McCarthy denied getting angry. ‘If you spent any time with Schumer, you’d know who the fourth was,’ he quipped.  

Before leaving the Capitol McCarthy he would oppose extending the debt limit to the end of the fiscal year on September 30 to give him and the president more time to hash out budget negotiations. 

‘Just get this done now,’ the speaker told reporters ahead of his highly anticipated meeting. ‘He’s got to stop ignoring problems. And why continue to kick the can down the road? Let’s solve it now.’ 

The speaker said a debt deal would need to be worked out by next week in order to be voted on by early June. 

The meeting began after 4 p.m. – when markets close – and marks the first time Biden and McCarthy have gone toe-to-toe on the debt ceiling in over three months.  

‘I hope it’s different than it’s been for the last 97 days,’ McCarthy said. ‘On February 1st I went to see the president and sat down with him saying we should work on the debt ceiling so we wouldn’t get to this point. Unfortunately it’s taken him 97 days to finally come back.’

The speaker said he did not have high hopes for the meeting. ‘I had a much higher expectation 97 days ago…then he told me one thing and did another.’

Both sides are entrenched as ever in their opposing demands over the nation’s borrowing limit – even as the Treasury Department says there could be just three weeks before the nation runs out of funds to pay its bills. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday during the daily press briefing that the president’s plan is not to support a short-term extension of the debt ceiling – putting more emphasis on the importance of the afternoon meeting of the ‘Big Four.’

‘A short-term extension is not our plan, either. That is not our plan,’ she said, adding that it is Congress who must act to prevent a default.

‘This is a manmade crisis that the speaker is leading. Can get this done.’ ‘We want to make sure that we move the threat of default,’ she added. ‘This is not negotiable.’

'Just get this done now,' the speaker told reporters ahead of his afternoon meeting with President Biden

‘Just get this done now,’ the speaker told reporters ahead of his afternoon meeting with President Biden

The deadline to hash out a budget for fiscal year 2024 is not until September 30, but McCarthy insists he will use raising the debt limit as leverage to guarantee spending cuts are included in that budget. 

When the federal government can’t borrow any more money and the nation’s bills pile up hire than its tax receipts, the U .S. could plunge into a catastrophic default – potentially triggering a recession and soaring unemployment. The Treasury Department has said this could occur as soon as June 1.



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