Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden held beginning talks on Wednesday discussing the U.S. government borrowing limits in a first attempt at working together. The meeting ended well as McCarthy said the two had found “common ground.”
“The President and I had a good first meeting,” said McCarthy to reporters after the almost one-and-a-half-hour meeting ended. “I shared my perspective with him, and he shared his,” said the Speaker.
“I can see where we can find common ground,” said McCarthy.
The President and Republicans are locked in a standoff over boosting the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.
Before the meeting, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said to reporters, “The president is looking forward to working closely and trying to figure out how we can deliver with Republicans who are willing to work in a good faith, bipartisan way.”
Talks mark opening of negotiations
The talks in the Oval Office are the opening bell for several months of back-and-forth maneuvering. Both sides believe a solution will only emerge from one meeting. However, without action, the government could lose the ability to pay bills as soon as early June.
However, McCarthy was optimistic that such a situation could be avoided.
“I believe if we’re able to get to an agreement, we could have a funding agreement for the next two years,” said McCarthy. “You’ll see the Senate and the House actually do the job the American public has elected us to do.”
The president has said previously that he will ask the Speaker for a particular budget plan and an assurance to support the U.S.’s debt obligations, said the White House. They also said he would discuss cutting spending with Republicans, but only after lifting the debt ceiling.
The increase will cover spending program costs as well as tax cuts that had been approved previously by Congress. The increase is usually supported on a bipartisan basis. However, Republicans would like to use the debt ceiling as leverage to get spending cuts, although they have not yet united around any particular plan.
The U.S. is different from many other developed countries as it limits how much it can borrow. Periodically, Congress must raise its debt cap because the U.S. government spends more money than it takes in.
For his part, Speaker McCarthy said President Biden needs to be willing to make concessions to get a debt-limit increase through Congress and said it would be “irresponsible” if he did not negotiate.