Democrats are addicted to spending, and that must be stopped, according to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
The speaker staked out the primary objective of negotiations with President Joe Biden over increasing the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling in comments to reporters on Capitol Hill on the morning of May 22.
Beginning in January, McCarthy has said Congress would not do without some agreement to cut federal discretionary spending.
However, the Republicans passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act in April, which attached a number of other conditions to an increase in the debt limit. That included tightening work requirements for some beneficiaries of Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), clawing back unspent COVID-19 relief funds, and loosening permitting requirements on drilling for oil and gas.
Returning to the theme of spending cuts, the speaker’s comments appeared to indicate that this is the most critical issue for Republicans. McCarthy previously said that increased work requirements were also a “red line” in negotiations.
McCarthy voiced frustration that the president delayed entering into talks until recently, creating unnecessary urgency. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the nation will reach the debt ceiling on or shortly after June 1 unless it is increased by Congress.
“Managing a crisis at the last deadline is the worst way to handle this,” McCarthy said. “I sat down with [the president] on February 1. For 97 days, he said he would meet.”
Biden has consistently said he would not negotiate over increasing the debt limit because to do so would endanger the full faith and credit of the United States.
As for negotiating on spending cuts and related matters, the president said there would be no point in doing so until Republicans produced a written proposal. Five days after Republicans passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act, Biden invited McCarthy and other congressional leaders to the White House for talks.
Despite the urgency of the deadline, McCarthy is confident there will be no default on the national debt.
“I don’t worry about a default because the Senate could always take up our bill to make sure there is not a default,” he said.
The Senate is in recess until May 30, leaving little time for it to act either on a potential Biden-McCarthy proposal or on the Limit, Save, Grow Act.
McCarthy and Biden are scheduled to meet on the afternoon of May 22 to continue talks.
Jackson Richman contributed to this story.
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