Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has accepted President Biden’s invitation to meet next week about the debt limit, a source familiar confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday, marking the first time since February that the two leaders will discuss the matter at length.
The meeting is scheduled to take place on May 9. Biden also invited Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).
“McCarthy spoke to Biden and agreed to meet on the 9th,” the source familiar told The Hill.
CNN was the first to report McCarthy had accepted Biden’s invitation. McConnell has not yet said if he will attend the meeting.
Biden invited the four congressional leaders to meet at the White House hours after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed the top lawmakers that the U.S. could reach its borrowing limit as soon as June 1. The date is a shift from when Yellen initially told lawmakers that it was unlikely the federal government would exhaust its extraordinary measures before early June.
When the U.S. hit the debt ceiling in January, the Treasury Department began implementing extraordinary measures to prevent the government from defaulting.
“After reviewing recent federal tax receipts, our best estimate is that we will be unable to continue to satisfy all of the government’s obligations by early June, and potentially as early as June 1, if Congress does not raise or suspend the debt limit before that time,” Yellen wrote on Monday.
“This estimate is based on currently available data, as federal receipts and outlays are inherently variable, and the actual date that Treasury exhausts extraordinary measures could be a number of weeks later than these estimated,” she added.
The Treasury secretary’s announcement will likely increase the pressure on lawmakers and the White House to strike a deal on raising the debt limit to avoid default, which administration officials and economists have warned could have disastrous ramifications for the U.S. economy.
Democrats and Republicans, however, remain at a stalemate.
House Republicans have pushed for any increase in the borrowing limit to be paired with spending cuts, raising concern about the U.S. debt. Last week, the House GOP conference narrowly passed a bill that would raise the debt limit by $1.5 trillion or through March 2024, whichever comes first, and implement a slew of spending cuts that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, would amount to $4.8 billion.
Schumer, however, has said the measure is “dead on arrival,” and Biden has threatened to veto the measure if it lands on his desk.
The White House and Democratic lawmakers, on the other hand, have pushed for a “clean” debt ceiling, meaning no conditions are associated with raising the borrowing limit. Those on the left point to the precedent of passing “clean” debt limit hikes, and have pushed for separate negotiations over the budget.
Both Biden and McCarthy reiterated their stances on Monday — before Yellen’s announcement — underscoring the tough road ahead for Washington to raise the debt limit and avoid the fiscal cliff.
“For over 200 years, America has never, ever, ever failed to pay its debt. To put in… colloquial terms, America is not a deadbeat nation. We have never, ever failed to meet the debt,” Biden said at an event at the White House on Monday. “Now, as a result, we’re one of the most respected nations in the world. We pay our bills, and we should do so without reckless hostage-taking from some of the MAGA Republicans in Congress.”
But during a press conference in Jerusalem on Monday, McCarthy again said that a “clean” debt limit increase is not on the table.
“We will not pass a debt ceiling that just raises it without doing something about our debt,” he said.
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