The President of U.S.A is set to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the debt ceiling deadline approaches and the two remain far from an agreement to avoid the first-ever default on the nation’s debt.
The meeting Wednesday afternoon at the White House comes as Republicans in their new House majority have said they want an agreement to cut government spending in exchange for voting to increase the nation’s borrowing limit, but haven’t agreed among themselves on what cuts they want.
The White House has insisted that there will be no negotiating over the debt limit and called on Congress to raise it without conditions, though past presidents of both parties have negotiated on the topic.
President Biden has drawn a difficult margin against entertaining spending cuts pushed by House Republicans amid their brinkmanship on raising the amount the U.S. can borrow.
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Biden and Democrats are haunted by the debt ceiling standoff of 2011, when then-Vice President Joe Biden in the Obama presidency convened a bipartisan group of lawmakers as Republicans in a new GOP-controlled House demanded deficit reduction.
Although a full-scale crisis including default was averted when Obama agreed to $2 trillion in spending cuts, there was damage nonetheless: The U.S. experienced its first credit rating downgrade and the stock market plunged.
Obama and Biden learned a lesson and made a pledge, according to a White House official: Never again negotiate to raise the debt limit. In turn, McCarthy is pointing to the same talks 12 years ago to make the case that negotiations over spending cuts should take place again.
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“He literally led the talks in 2011 and he praised having those talks,” McCarthy said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” when asked whether he believes Biden will look at spending.
“This is what he’s always done in the past.” But the White House cites congressional precedent to argue the debt limit should be lifted without conditions.
Congress has raised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960, White House officials like to note, including 49 times under Republican presidents, 29 times under Democratic presidents and during divided governments like today.
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Three of those times came when Donald Trump was president with votes from Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
McCarthy, in the same interview Sunday on “Face the Nation,” said, “We’re not going to default.
“But McCarthy faces pressure to satisfy concerns of hard-line conservatives in his caucus, who stalled his election as speaker earlier this year and now want spending concessions.
For Biden, it’s a major risk to assume House Republicans will be the first to blink.