McCarthy renews call for spending cuts as White House debt talks resume

With a potential federal default just over a week away, President Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday renewed his call for President Biden and congressional Democrats to agree to spending cuts in return for an increase in the ceiling on the debt and the ability of the Treasury Department to avoid missing payments.

“You have to spend less than you did last year,” McCarthy said at a Capitol news conference as the Biden administration and Republican negotiators met at the White House. “It’s not that hard to do. But in Washington, it’s kind of a problem.

The administration has tried to toe the line against the cuts and instead push for a freeze on current spending levels, but Mr. McCarthy has made cuts to national programs a central demand in the negotiations. With Republicans insisting against cuts to defense or veterans programs, the brunt of the cuts would hit social programs that Democrats favor.

Despite a series of regular meetings, negotiators have reported little progress on the substance of any deal. Still, Mr McCarthy continued to express hope that a deal could be reached before the June 1 deadline.

“I think we can make progress today,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I hope we can.”

Right-wing Republicans have pledged to oppose any compromise that forgoes cuts that were part of their debt limitation bill, which was approved along party lines last month, so M McCarthy will likely need a significant number of Democratic votes to clinch a deal. But congressional Democrats are resisting cuts to the overall budget.

The House is set to begin a week-long Memorial Day recess on Friday, and McCarthy will have to decide whether to hold members back in Washington or send them home, then call them back if a deal can be reached. He has pledged to give lawmakers 72 hours to review any plan, meaning review of any deal appears to be slipping into next week.

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has repeatedly warned that the government could exhaust its ability to meet all of its obligations by June 1.


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