Republican lawmaker Kevin McCarthy said on Monday that no agreement had been reached in talks on raising the US federal government’s debt ceiling.
McCarthy, who is the speaker of the House of Representatives, made the comments after a meeting with President Joe Biden.
McCarthy said the discussion had been “productive” despite the lack of an agreement.
“I feel that we have a productive discussion. We do not have an agreement yet, but I feel that the discussion is productive in areas (where) we have differences of opinion,” he stressed.
Hours before the meeting, the Republican lawmaker said he believed the negotiations were “on the right track.”
Biden said he was “hopeful that we will make progress” as the talks begin. He added that both sides understand that they have a “significant responsibility” to reach an agreement and that a default is “not on the table.”
What is the deadline for the debt ceiling deal?
The federal government currently has a borrowing limit of $31.4 trillion (€29 trillion).
Biden warned that any default could have “catastrophic” consequences.
McCarthy and Biden have 10 days to reach an agreement to increase the debt ceiling.
Any deal to raise the ceiling must pass both houses of Congress. Republicans control the House 222-213, while Biden’s Democrats have a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate.
It will take several days for Congress to consider and pass any legislation born from a possible agreement between Biden and McCarthy.
“We can get a deal tonight. We can get a deal tomorrow but you have to do something this week to pass it and move it to the Senate,” McCarthy said.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that it is “very likely” that the government department will not be able to pay all of its obligations by early June if the debt ceiling is not raised.
What Republicans want in exchange for a deal
A White House official said Monday that Republican negotiators are proposing cuts to food assistance programs.
Republicans also proposed reducing Congress-approved COVID-19 aid and work requirements for some programs for low-income people. The party’s lawmakers aim to bring spending down to 2022 levels.
Biden said the latest offer made by Republicans was “unacceptable.” He said he would not support oil subsidies and “rich tax cheats” while cutting food aid and health care spending.
“We have to spend a little more next year than we spent this year,” McCarthy said Monday.
sdi/rt (Reuters, AFP)