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NEWSMAX STAFF| Tuesday, 16 May 2023 04:19 PM EDT


Democratic President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy’s U.S. debt ceiling negotiations ended on Tuesday after less than an hour, as the looming fear of an unprecedented American debt default prompted Biden to cut short an upcoming Asia trip. But the meeting ended on an upbeat and unexpected note as McCarthy, coming out of the meeting with Biden and other congressional leaders, said, “It is possible to get a deal by the end of the week.”

House of Representatives Speaker McCarthy told reporters Biden is trying to reach a debt ceiling deal by June 1 to lift the threat of economic calamity

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in a short amount of time,” McCarthy told reporters, saying the less-than-an-hour session had set the stage for future conversations.

Biden and McCarthy sat down in the Oval Office with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. The president leaves on Wednesday for a three-day G7 summit in Japan, but a source said Biden decided on Tuesday to skip a stop to Papau New Guinea and Australia afterward.

Ahead of the Oval Office meeting, Biden and McCarthy’s aides have discussed the requirements for two key programs that provide food and cash aid to families, in the past week’s negotiations over raising the government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling to avoid an economically catastrophic default. Expanding the work requirements has been a key demand of Republicans, who are also pushing for spending cuts in exchange for their votes to raise the debt limit.

Biden and McCarthy have little time to strike a deal. On Monday, the Treasury Department reiterated its warning that it could run short of money to pay all its bills as soon as June 1, triggering a default that economists say would be likely to spark a sharp economic downturn.

McCarthy on Tuesday told reporters that his party, which controls the chamber by a 222-213 margin, would only agree to a deal that cuts spending.

“We can raise the debt ceiling if we limit what we’re going to spend in the future,” McCarthy told reporters. Both parties agree on the need for urgent action.

In the past week, staffs for both sides have discussed a range of issues, including spending caps, new work requirements for some benefit programs for low-income Americans and changes to energy permitting in exchange for votes to lift the limit, according to people briefed on the talks. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to reveal details about closed-door negotiations, said the work requirement discussions focus on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously known as food stamps, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

Biden alluded to the talks in public remarks over the weekend, saying he would not consider such a move for the Medicaid health program for low-income Americans.

“The president has been clear that he will not accept proposals that take away peoples’ health coverage,” said White House spokesperson Michael Kikukawa. “The president has also been clear that he will not accept policies that push Americans into poverty. He will evaluate whatever proposals Republicans bring to the table based on those principles.”


A similar 2011 standoff over the debt limit led to a historic downgrade of the U.S. credit rating, sparking a sell-off in stocks and pushing the government’s borrowing costs higher. The current deadlock has rattled investors, sending the cost of insuring exposure to U.S. government debt to record highs. A Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Monday found that three-fourths of Americans fear a default would take a heavy toll on families like theirs.

“Nobody should use default as a hostage,” Schumer said in a Senate speech on Tuesday. “The consequences would be devastating for America.”

NICE TRY CHUCKIE BABY. You forgot we have records, videos and Congressional records where you held The Debt Ceiling hostage WITH TRUMP. LIES, LIES AND MORE LIES. Your usual conduct.

Some observers have raised concerns that the five-party talks are too unwieldy to make progress. No. 2 Senate Republican John Thune told reporters the talks appear to have “too many cooks.”

“As we’ve said all along, it is Biden and McCarthy,” Thune said. “So, whoever can actually speak on behalf of the president needs to get in the room, and get McCarthy’s best people in there, and get it done.”

McCarthy himself said he would prefer one-on-one talks with Biden.

“If the president comes to an agreement, the Democrats in the Senate will vote for it. The House will pass it, if we are all in agreement,” McCarthy said. “Why do we waste more time going around and around, not solving any of the real problems? I think you’re putting the country in jeopardy when you do that.”

© 2023 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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