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 president told reporters on May 21, “Now it’s time for the other side to move from their extreme positions, because much of what they’ve already proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable.” Biden spoke from Hiroshima, Japan, where he was attending the G7 Summit.
Later on May 21, the two men spoke by phone and agreed to meet the next day. Following the call, McCarthy told reporters that the call was “productive,” adding, “I think we can solve these problems.”
“I think that we can reach an agreement,” Biden said.
At issue are the provisions of the Limit, Save, Grow Act, which Republicans passed on April 26.
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.
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