House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accused the White House of backtracking on talks on raising the US debt ceiling and said he expected no progress until President Joe Biden would not return to Washington after a Group of Seven summit in Japan.
“I don’t think we can move forward until the president can get back into the country,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol on Saturday. “From the last day until today, they have backed off. They actually want to spend more money than we are spending this year.
McCarthy’s comments confirmed a further shift in tone toward mutual recrimination after the White House suggested earlier Saturday that Republicans were negotiating in bad faith. Time is running out, with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen saying the US could lose its ability to pay all its bills by June 1.
Biden signaled earlier Saturday that he remains confident the U.S. government can avoid a catastrophic default.
Republicans and the White House are battling for spending cuts, which GOP lawmakers are demanding as the price for raising the federal borrowing limit.
“We need to spend less than we are spending this year,” McCarthy said, reiterating his demand for the result.
Lawmakers are stepping up their attacks on each other as talks stall – despite signs of progress earlier in the week.
“I think Bernie Sanders and the socialist wing of their party had a real effect on the president, especially since he’s out of the country,” McCarthy said.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at a press briefing from Hiroshima, Japan on Saturday that there were “real differences between the two sides.” And Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates said House Republicans were “holding the US economy hostage” and portrayed the GOP caucus as beholden to right-wing members.
For a deal to succeed, the cuts must be big enough to appease conservative Republicans, who backed McCarthy’s presidency on the condition that he extract serious spending reforms without raising taxes or cutting military spending and government benefits. Veterans.
But a plan must also be acceptable to Democrats, who hold a majority in the Senate and will likely need to deliver between 50 and 100 votes in the House. Few in the president’s party want to see national programs cut, especially without corresponding cuts to the Pentagon’s budget or the closing of tax loopholes used by the wealthy and big business.
The desire to wait for Biden may be informed by a Republican belief that the president will ultimately decide to sacrifice progressive priorities to defuse the biggest threat to the economy ahead of his re-election campaign. The president has already de facto given up on his promise not to negotiate on raising the debt ceiling.
The fight against the debt limit, which could trigger a first-ever default in the United States, threatens to inflict pain on the global economy. It overshadowed Biden’s foreign trip and the president had previously decided to cut his trips short in order to return to Washington for the final stages of negotiations.
A Republican walkout of talks Friday in Washington shattered hopes that negotiators were close to striking a deal to raise the borrowing limit, sending stocks tumbling.
McCarthy had hoped to at least forge agreement on a deal plan this weekend to stage a House vote on the legislation next week.
The Senate left Washington for their Memorial Day recess, but senators were asked to be prepared to return with 24 hours’ notice if necessary.
Biden will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at the G-7 on Sunday, according to a White House statement. He is due back in Washington on Sunday evening.
–With help from Justin Sink and Kailey Leinz.