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Biden and McCarthy will meet on Tuesday to try to break the debt ceiling blockade


WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are due to meet Tuesday afternoon to discuss a way to break the impasse over the debt ceiling, fears of an auto economic calamity. – inflicted increasing as Republicans demand spending cuts.

Failure to reach an agreement to lift the borrowing limit threatens the first-ever default on the $31.4 trillion national debt, an outcome that could prove catastrophic for the U.S. economy and upend the political landscape.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a letter on Monday that the United States should still exhaust all options to continue paying the country’s bills as early as June 1, leaving Congress less than three weeks to avoid the worst-case scenario. potential.

“We just got word from our secretary on June 1 that we might run out of money. We only have so many days left,” McCarthy, R-California, said Monday. “So, no, I don’t think we’re in the right place. I know we are not.

Meeting between Biden, McCarthy and other congressional leaders postponed from Friday; some lawmakers have said they want to give staff-level negotiators more time to develop a framework for discussion for principals.

Biden met with McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y. ., last Tuesday. Since then, White House and Capitol Hill staffers have held private meetings to consider a way forward, but have been tight-lipped on the details of the negotiations. It is unclear how much progress they have made.

Vice President Kamala Harris is also expected to join Tuesday’s meeting, scheduled for 3 p.m. ET, according to a source familiar with her plans.

Schumer insisted on Monday that default must “be off the table.”

“President McCarthy must commit to doing the same,” he said. “The consequences of default are too terrible.”

Biden has been reluctant to characterize the talks as they are ongoing, but said last week he was “certain” the default could be avoided, and he remained optimistic over the weekend.

“I remain optimistic because I’m a congenital optimist, but I really think there’s a desire on their part as well as ours to come to an agreement,” Biden said Sunday. “I think we will be able to do that.”

He did not respond when asked about his message for McCarthy.

The Republican-led House is demanding spending cuts and policy changes to raise the debt ceiling. Biden and the Democratic-controlled Senate insist that paying the bills is non-negotiable and that next year’s budget should be dealt with separately.

With talks continuing and a deal not yet within reach, the timing could upend Biden’s visit to Asia for meetings with his foreign counterparts.

The pressure to reach an agreement is mounting even as the two sides seem distant.

A debt ceiling bill passed by House Republicans would cut the budget to fiscal year 2022 levels, slashing current spending by $131 billion. Democrats want to increase spending on health, education and other national priorities, leaving both sides to find other ways to cut spending; one possibility Biden and Republicans have floated is withdrawing unspent Covid funds. Another possibility is reforms that would speed up the permitting process for energy projects backed by the White House and centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, DW.Va.

Still, Biden continued to pressure Republicans, calling the impending default a “manufactured crisis” and insisting that the responsibility rests with Congress to avert it.

The White House has described House Republicans as the only party to the talks willing to accept default as an outcome.

“Three of the four said we had to avoid default,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Friday. “They have been very clear – we need to take the default off the table. I’ll let you guess who was the fourth who didn’t say that.

Kyle Stewart, Yamiche Alcindor And Monique Alba contributed.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.