Kevin McCarthy warns White House to reach debt-limit deal this week

Kevin McCarthy warns White House to reach debt-limit deal this week

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy warned Monday that any deal with President Biden over raising the debt limit must be completed by the end of this week to avert a default on the government’s obligations by June 1.

“We should’ve gotten it done by [last] weekend,” said Mr. McCarthy, California Republican. “We’ve got to get something done this week in order to pass it and move it to the Senate.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that if the debt ceiling of $31.4 trillion is not raised by June 1, the government may be unable to pay all of its bills. Despite the urgency, the Senate is out on recess and will not return until after Memorial Day.

While Senate Democrats could cut their break short, it still takes nearly a week for legislation to move through the chamber.

“We should’ve gotten it done by the weekend,” Mr. McCarthy said. “It does make it more difficult but I think we can still make that all happen.”

The comments came as Mr. McCarthy was set to meet at the White House with Mr. Biden on Monday. The talks are the first in-person since Mr. Biden left Washington last week for a meeting with G7 leaders in Japan.

During Mr. Biden’s absence, talks broke down several times between administration staff and House Republicans.

Mr. McCarthy said the breakdown is due in part to the White House’s unwillingness to cut spending immediately. Republicans are pushing for at least $130 billion in the upcoming budget, which at least half could come from rescinding unspent coronavirus funds.

“We could get a deal tonight, we could get a deal tomorrow,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I’ve been very clear … we have to spend less than we spent last year.”

The White House is proposing to keep domestic and defense spending flat for the upcoming fiscal year. Administration officials argue that would still amount to a spending cut because of inflation.

House Republicans want to boost spending for defense, border security and veterans benefits. GOP lawmakers say spending cuts should be focused on welfare programs and “woke bureaucracy.”

Both sides are accusing the other of moving goalposts and trying to load up legislation with poison pills.

House Republicans have proposed stricter work requirements for food stamps than were included in the debt-limit bill they passed last month. They are also pushing for the package to address immigration and border security. Each issue is a priority for hardline conservatives, who Mr. McCarthy will need to keep the speaker’s gavel within the narrowly divided House.

“The speaker’s team put on the table an offer that was a big step back and contained a set of extreme partisan demands that could never pass both Houses of Congress,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Democrats, meanwhile, have proposed closing tax loopholes and raising rates on the wealthy. The president has also urged Republicans to expand Medicare’s ability to negotiate the price of prescription drugs.

Progressive Democrats have long championed the ideas as ways to boost revenue and curtail the deficit without having to slash spending for social welfare programs. Republicans have rejected both ideas.

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