McCarthy to Meet with Biden About Debt Ceiling

May 2, 2023

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has accepted an invitation from President Biden to attend a meeting at the White House on May 9—one week from Tuesday—to discuss raising the debt ceiling before the U.S. defaults on its loans.

Biden had extended his invitation to four Congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) along with McCarthy.

Biden’s invitation went out Monday, the same day that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in a letter to Speaker McCarthy that if Congress doesn’t act, the U.S. could default on its debt as early as June 1.

On Thursday the House passed a Republican-led bill to swap budget cuts for an agreement not to default on federal debt following amendments approved by McCarthy just hours after he had told reporters he was not entertaining any more changes to the legislation.

Those amendments included restoring three tax breaks for biofuels, speeding up the timeline for tougher work requirements for Medicaid recipients, and allowing for the possibility of future cuts to veterans’ benefits.

As-is, it has no chance of passing in the Democratic-led Senate. In fact, Schumer plans to hold hearings on the House bill, which he has called “a hard-right ransom note to the American people.”

Further, Biden has threatened to veto the House bill should it pass as-is, which he called “a reckless attempt to extract extreme concessions.”

McConnell has said any solution to the debt “will have to come out of the House.” 

The United States has never defaulted on its debt. According to Yellen, doing so would spell economic “catastrophe” for the country.

“Household payments on mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards would rise, and American businesses would see credit markets deteriorate,” she said in February.

In her letter Monday to McCarthy, she wrote, “If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, it would cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position, and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests.”

McCarthy responded to Yellen’s comments Monday in a statement that said, “The clock is ticking.” He then pointed to Democrats, saying, “The Senate and the President need to get to work—and soon.”

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