President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will meet on Wednesday, the first such gathering since the California Republican won the speakership earlier this month, a White House official confirmed.
The Treasury Department continues to take extraordinary steps to get the government to pay its bills after the U.S. reached the debt ceiling set by Congress.
“I want to find a reasonable and responsible way to raise the debt ceiling while reining in this runaway spending,” McCarthy said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“So I want to sit down together and come up with an agreement that we can move forward while putting us on a balanced path without putting any of our debt at risk at the same time,” he said.
Hardline Republicans, who hold significant leverage in the House of Representatives because their party holds a narrow majority, have demanded that the removal of the borrowing cap be tied to spending cuts.
However, the White House countered that it would not make any concessions or negotiations on raising the debt ceiling. With the solution to the debt-ceiling drama fully in the hands of lawmakers, fears are growing that partisan brinkmanship could lead to the country’s first-ever debt default — or the danger of coming close to it.
McCarthy said Sunday that defense spending could be on the agenda, but he made clear that cuts to Social Security and Medicare were not an option.
“I think first and foremost our first responsibility is that we all have to pass budgets. We should all pass appropriations bills so the country can see where we’re headed. But you can’t continue to cause this kind of inflationary spending that’s going to bring our Economic issues. We have to control spending,” he said.
Earlier this month, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said the two would meet on a range of topics, but insisted that raising the debt ceiling was “non-negotiable.”
“President Biden looks forward to meeting with Speaker McCarthy to discuss a range of issues as part of a series of meetings with all new congressional leaders beginning this year,” Jean-Pierre said. “As the President has said many times, raising the debt ceiling is not a negotiation; it is the duty of this country and its leaders to avoid economic chaos.”