President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy both sounded somewhat upbeat Monday evening after their latest meeting at the White House on raising the U.S. debt ceiling and avoiding a market-shaking default.
“I think it was productive in the professionalism, the honesty with one another and the desire to try to find common ground,” McCarthy told reporters.
“I believe we can get it done,” the speaker also said. McCarthy indicated he’ll stay in touch with Biden, and his deputies and the White House’s team will be meeting further.
“They’re going to come back together, work through the night,” McCarthy said. “We know the deadline. I think the president and I are going to talk every day.”
In addition, the California Republican played down the chances for a short-term extension for the debt limit that would provide a divided Washington with more time to make a deal, saying that he didn’t think a short-term move would benefit anybody, and Americans would see it as a failure.
Biden commented on the meeting through a statement issued by the White House.
“I just concluded a productive meeting with Speaker McCarthy about the need to prevent default and avoid a catastrophe for our economy,” Biden said.
“We reiterated once again that default is off the table and the only way to move forward is in good faith toward a bipartisan agreement. While there are areas of disagreement, the Speaker and I, and his lead negotiators Chairman McHenry and Congressman Graves, and our staffs will continue to discuss the path forward,” the president added, referring to House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, and GOP Rep. Garett Graves of Louisiana.
As the meeting kicked off, Biden said he and McCarthy have “got to get something done.”
“We still have some disagreements, but I think we may be able to get to where we have to go. We both know we have a significant responsibility,” the president told reporters before they were ushered out of the Oval Office.
Analysts have emphasized that it’s getting to be crunch time.
“We need to see a deal by Friday to have confidence that it can clear both
chambers before the June 1 deadline,” Height Capital Markets analysts said in a note.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned in a letter after the market’s close on Monday that it’s “highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1.” That echoed warnings that she offered last week and previously on May 1.
McCarthy and his fellow Republicans have been seeking spending cuts in exchange for lifting the ceiling for federal borrowing, while Biden and his fellow Democrats reportedly have offered a freeze for outlays and asked for tax hikes.
Before Monday’s meeting, the speaker told reporters on Capitol Hill that a deal needs to happen this week. He said it’s “still possible” to get an agreement through Congress by June 1.
Biden and McCarthy spoke by phone Sunday as the president was flying back to Washington on Air Force One after the G-7 summit in Japan. Their representatives also met for two and a half hours on Sunday, as talks appear to be narrowing on a spending cap for the 2024 budget year.