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Kevin McCarthy says he’s ‘very concerned’ he won’t reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling because Biden ‘never wants to meet’

Biden and Kevin McCarthyUS President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.

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  • Kevin McCarthy said he’s “very concerned” he and Biden won’t reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
  • He blamed the lack of progress on Biden’s unwillingness to meet and negotiate a deal.
  • But Biden has been adamant that Congress must past a clean debt ceiling bill without spending cuts.

It’s not easy to be Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy right now.

For months, he has been trying to reach a deal with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and keep the US on top of paying its bills before the country defaults — an unprecedented economic catastrophe that could happen as soon as July. He’s remained true to his stance that Republicans will not agree to a clean debt ceiling deal, and that his party should use it as leverage to achieve spending cuts on Democratic priorities.

But weeks have dragged on and McCarthy has made no progress toward a deal, while President Joe Biden has been adamant he will not negotiate with the Speaker over pairing spending cuts with raising the debt ceiling. Congress passed a clean spending-cut-free debt ceiling increase three times under former President Donald Trump.

The stalemate has McCarthy worried.

“I sat down with the president on February 1, and the president never wants to meet,” McCarthy said on Bloomberg TV this week. “I’m very concerned about the debt ceiling. I want to make sure we don’t have conflict.”

But with neither side apparently willing to budge, conflict is on the horizon. McCarthy told reporters earlier this week that he’s “never going to move a bill that just raises the debt ceiling,” but that’s exactly what Biden wants — and he thinks any discussion on a budget and spending cuts should be separate from the debt ceiling.

“My hope is that House Republicans can present the American public with your budget plan before the Congress leaves for the Easter recess so that we can have an in-depth conversation when you return,” Biden wrote in a letter at the end of March to McCarthy. “As I have repeatedly said, that conversation must be separate from prompt action on the Congress’ basic obligation to pay the nation’s bills and avoid economic catastrophe.”

Adding to the complications is a new report from The New York Times that said, according to aides familiar with McCarthy’s thinking, the speaker does not have confidence in some leading GOP lawmakers who are working on the budget and debt ceiling deals. 

The lack of progress among Republicans even has some centrist Democrats willing to step in. As Politico reported, some of those Democrats are working with GOP lawmakers to craft an emergency plan to raise the debt ceiling, but details have not yet been released and it’s unlikely to make much progress given it would undermine Democrats strict message that the debt ceiling should be raised cleanly.

Regardless of the secret plans some lawmakers are concocting, the way most Democrats see it is that there is no other option aside from a debt ceiling increase, no strings attached. Brendan Boyle, ranking Democratic member of the House Budget Committee, told CNBC on Wednesday that he understands the difficult position McCarthy is in — but it’s no excuse to let the country default.

“He made so many different promises to different groups in order to finally be elected Speaker,” Boyle said. “He’s just having the toughest time satisfying those demands either when it comes to passing a budget or to putting a bill on the floor — clean — to raise the debt ceiling.”

“Look, at the end of the day, there’s only one way this can end: and that is a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives to raise the debt ceiling,” he added. “Period. There is no other way.”

Read the original article on Business Insider
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