President Joe Biden, Congressional Leaders Likely to Meet Tuesday for Talks on Raising the Debt Limit

President Joe Biden and congressional leaders are likely to resume talks at the White House Tuesday over the debt limit, said the president on Sunday. While the nation continues moving closer to the legal borrowing authority, there has yet to be an agreement. 

The meeting was initially intended to be Friday; however, it was abruptly postponed so staff-level talks could continue before the president and four leaders from Congress meet again. 

On Sunday, congressional and administration officials said a meeting had yet to be finalized. However, it was likely to be Tuesday, as the president returns to Washington Monday and is scheduled to leave for Japan for the Group of 7 summit on Wednesday. 

President didn’t detail much progress in the talks but said he was still hopeful an agreement could be reached with Republicans to avoid what would be an unparalleled debt default, triggering a financial catastrophe.

I remain optimistic because I’m a congenital optimist,” said Biden to reporters while on a bike ride in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. “But I really think there’s a desire on their part as well as ours to reach an agreement. I think we’ll be able to do it.”

Aides said talks continued throughout the weekend. But publicly, there was minimal indication that either the House Republicans or the White House had budged from their initial positions. The president called on lawmakers to lift the debt limit with no preconditions and warned that the nation’s borrowing authority shouldn’t be used to implement deep spending cuts along with other conservative policy demands. 

“We’ve not reached the crunch point yet,” said the president on Saturday before flying to his beach home for the weekend. “There’s real discussion about some changes we all could make. We’re not there yet.”

Sunday, senior administration officials said discussions among staff had been productive so far after President Biden and the leaders — Senate Minority GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, Senate Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Dem leader from New York, Hakeem Jeffries, ended their first meeting last Tuesday with no breakthrough. 

The president said the Oval Office session was “productive,” although McCarthy said later he “didn’t see any new movement” toward resolving the standstill. Congressional aides and the White House have been in talks since Wednesday. 

“The staff is very engaged. I would characterize the engagement as serious, as constructive,” said the head of the White House’s National Economic Council, Lael Brainard, on “Face the Nation.”

 Speaker McCarthy remains committed to spending cuts

Speaker McCarthy used the threat of default on the national debt to achieve cuts in spending. McCarthy argues the federal government cannot continue to spend money at its current pace. The national debt is currently $31.4 trillion.

The Treasury Department said the government may exhaust the ability to pay bills as soon as June 1. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a similar warning Friday and said there was a “significant risk” of default sometime in the first two weeks of June. 

However, federal estimates remain in flux. 

On Friday, the CBO noted if cash flow in the Treasury and “extraordinary measures” could continue through June 15m the government would ‘probably’ be able to finance its operations through July’s end. The expected tax revenues coming in mid-June, along with other measures, will give the federal government enough funds for at least a few more weeks. 

“Ultimately, the stakes are, the United States has never defaulted on its debt,” said deputy treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “And we can’t.”

GOP Representative Michael McCaul of Texas told ABC’s “This Week”: “I think defaulting is not the right path to go down. So, I am an eternal optimist.”

McCaul added, “This is always a game we play, every Congress, you know, in daring each other to jump off the cliff. It’s a dangerous game.”