Biden-McCarthy meeting ends ‘better’ – but with no clear path to deal with

In their first meeting in six days, McCarthy and Biden spoke for more than an hour about remaining sticking points, including impending spending cuts. Now McCarthy has said he and Biden have ordered their negotiators – who already met several hours earlier on Monday – to “work through the night” as they race to a deal before US borrowing power does not run out in 10 days.

“I feel like it’s been productive in professionalism, honesty with each other and a desire to try to find common ground,” McCarthy said. But asked about specifics, such as the GOP’s demand for tougher labor requirements on social programs, McCarthy said, “There’s nothing agreed” — illustrating the gaps that still exist.

Top House Democrats, though they did not attend the meeting, later said they were told it was a helpful discussion from their party’s negotiators. While House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries dismissed GOP demands like border wall funding, job demands or a 10-year spending freeze as “unreasonable,” he also acknowledged for the first time Democrats were “willing to discuss freezing spending at current levels.”

“It’s an inherently reasonable position that many in our party might even be uncomfortable with, but President Biden recognizes that we are in a divided government situation,” he said.

To get a deal through both houses of Congress, GOP leaders have said they need to reach a bipartisan tax deal this week so that there is enough time for both houses to pass the measure and the are sending to Biden’s office to avoid a market-crushing debt breach.

In a closed-door meeting with his management team earlier Monday, McCarthy predicted that even if a deal is reached Monday night, it may still be impossible to eliminate him from the House by Thursday. That’s thanks, in part, to one of his wishes from the presidential race: GOP members were promised 72 hours to read the text of any legislation before a vote.

A member of the GOP leadership, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told POLITICO, “I don’t have any firm plans this weekend.”

Biden officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have repeatedly warned that the United States will run out of money to pay its obligations as early as June 1. But there is little certainty around that exact date — which has frustrated many Republicans, especially as other economists predict. a so-called X date closer to June 8. And it all left a sense of unease around the Capitol, where lawmakers are eager to leave town for a week-long Memorial Day vacation on Thursday afternoon.

Inside the room, McCarthy described the conversation as “professional” and “productive”. In addition to McCarthy, the GOP attendees included House Financial Services Chairman Patrick McHenry (RN.C.), McCarthy Chief Dan Meyer and McCarthy’s senior policy adviser Brittan Specht.

“We had tough meetings, we had tough meetings, this meeting was productive,” said McHenry, who alongside Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) hunkered down for days in meetings with Richetti, Young, and Terrell.

Biden’s team, meanwhile, consisted of chief of staff Jeff Zients, director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young, senior adviser Steve Ricchetti and director of the Office of Legislative Affairs Louisa Terrell.

Prior to the meeting, Biden had been optimistic about negotiations with McCarthy, even acknowledging the need to cut spending — something his party’s left has been loath to do.

“We’re optimistic that maybe we can make some progress because we both agree that default isn’t really on the table,” Biden said, noting that they’ve both been focused on a solution. bipartisan – with no real option. “We have to do something here.”

But Biden had also called on both sides to look at “tax loopholes” — something McCarthy appeared to rule out as he spoke after the meeting.

“We don’t look at revenue, and if you think about putting in some kind of tax, that would just hurt our economy,” McCarthy said, calling it a “dumb thing to do” because it would fuel inflation.

Jennifer Haberkorn, Jordain Carney and Nicholas Wu contributed.


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