McCarthy warns of ‘dire ramifications’ over Biden debt limit negotiation position

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) sent a letter to President Biden on Tuesday, blaming him for any negative consequences that come from the looming debt ceiling deadline and suggesting several areas of negotiation for spending reductions and reforms.

“With each passing day, I am incredibly concerned that you are putting an already fragile economy in jeopardy by insisting upon your extreme position of refusing to negotiate any meaningful changes to out-of-control government spending alongside an increase of the debt limit,” McCarthy said in the letter to Biden.

“Your position – if maintained – could prevent America from meeting its obligations and hold dire ramifications for the entire nation,” McCarthy added.

McCarthy and Biden have not held a White House meeting to discuss the debt limit and spending since Feb. 1. In his Tuesday letter, the Speaker asked the White House to reach out to set up a date for their next meeting by the end of the week.

McCarthy also laid out some areas of negotiation, suggesting ideas like reducing nondefense government spending to pre-inflationary levels and limiting out-year growth, rescinding unspent COVID-19 funds, increasing work requirements on those without dependents who receive government assistance, taking measures to “lower energy costs” and increasing security at the U.S.-Mexico border.   

“Taken together, such policies would help address the number one issue facing Americans today: Stubbornly high inflation brought on by reckless government spending,” McCarthy said.

Republicans are pushing Democrats and Biden to agree to spending cuts as a condition of raising the debt limit, but the White House has called on Republicans to accept a “clean” debt limit increase without any conditions.

The White House responded to McCarthy’s letter on Tuesday by again calling for a clean debt ceiling increase. 

“The President welcomes a separate conversation about our nation’s fiscal future. Earlier this month, he released a budget that cuts the deficit by nearly $3 trillion while lowering costs for families and investing in America,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. “Speaker McCarthy and his extreme MAGA caucus have refused to put out a budget.”

House Republicans have said their budget, which was originally expected to be released before mid-April, will be delayed due to the White House budget being delayed weeks past the statutory deadline — which is a regular occurrence for presidents.

“Mr. President, simply put: you are on the clock. It’s time to drop the partisanship, roll up our sleeves, and find common ground on this urgent challenge,” McCarthy said.

Congress is expected to have to act on the debt in order to avoid default by sometime this summer, but the Treasury Department has not projected a specific date by which Congress must act.

Updated at 12:34 p.m.


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