Biden, McCarthy Meeting Offers Hope of Deal on Debt Ceiling

Biden, McCarthy Meeting Offers Hope of Deal on Debt Ceiling
President Joe Biden (R) sits next to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 2, 2023. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
Lawrence Wilson

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will meet on May 22 for in-person talks on resolving the debt ceiling crisis.

Over the weekend, negotiations between representatives from each side stalled as both doubled down on their demands.

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), the lead negotiator for Republicans, told reporters on May 19 that Biden’s negotiators were being “unreasonable.”

The measure would reduce discretionary spending to the 2022 level, increase work requirements for some beneficiaries of Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), loosen permitting requirements for oil and gas drilling, and increase the debt ceiling through March 2024.

Democrats have roundly criticized the proposal as an effort to balance the federal budget on the backs of the working class while preserving Trump-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.

In particular, Democrats have decried what they call steep spending cuts that they believe will cost tens of thousands of jobs and require wholesale reduction of federal food assistance, education, and other programs that benefit many Americans. They also insist on no changes to federal work requirements.

McCarthy has said that work requirements and a reduction in spending are “red lines” for Republicans.

Complicating any deal the two leaders might make, hard-liners on both sides have issued calls to avoid compromise on their core objectives.

Eleven senators, led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), signed a letter to the president on May 18 urging him to invoke the 14th Amendment to continue paying the nation’s bills rather than to either default on the debt or acquiesce to what they see as unacceptable spending cuts.

The House Freedom Caucus, led by Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), released a statement the same day urging McCarthy and senate Republicans to break off talks with Biden and pass the Limit, Save, Grow Act into law.

The time of the May 22 meeting between Biden and McCarthy had not been determined by the time of publication.