The president of the US House of Representatives, Republican Kevin McCarthy, affirmed that they are still “very far” from an agreement with the White House and the Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and prevent the country from falling into a suspension of payments, after a meeting this Tuesday with President Joe Biden. McCarthy was asked after the meeting by a journalist if the positions were still very far apart, to which he replied: “yes.”
Immediately afterwards, the journalist ventured whether it would be possible to reach an agreement at the end of this week, to which the leader of the Republicans in the Lower House would affirmatively defend. “It is not difficult to reach an agreement,” reflected McCarthy, who added that the meeting on Tuesday, which comes after a first meeting a week ago, has been “productive.”
As in that first meeting, the meeting on Tuesday was attended, in addition to Biden and McCarthy, by the leader of the conservative minority in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, and the leaders of the Democrats in that chamber and the Lower House, Chuck Schumer and Hakeem Jeffries. McCarthy said they have done a lot of work in a short period of time, although he wished this had been done 100 days ago. Currently, Republicans, Democrats and the White House are negotiating to raise the country’s debt ceiling, from 31.4 trillion dollars, after it was reached on January 19.
Since then, the Government has had to draw on money in its reserves to pay off the debts it has contracted. The Treasury Department estimates that these reserves will be exhausted by June 1, at which time the US would automatically enter a suspension of payments, the first in its history. After the meeting on Tuesday, the White House issued a statement in the one who described the meeting as “productive and direct”, in which Biden stressed that, despite the fact that there is still work to be done on a range of “difficult” issues, he is optimistic that an agreement can be reached if it is negotiated ” in good faith and it is recognized that neither party can achieve everything it wants”.
Biden cancels commitments
Biden, who will travel to Japan tomorrow to attend the G7 summit between May 19 and 21 and has canceled his subsequent trip to Papua New Guinea and Australia due to the lack of an agreement on the debt, has ordered his staff to continue meeting daily to address this issue. He also plans to contact congressional leaders by phone later this week and meet with them upon his return from Japan.
From the White House, Schumer affirmed that it is necessary to agree to avoid the suspension of payments, because, prolonged, it would be a “disaster”. “It’s something that everyone in the (board) room understood and I’m glad to see that everyone understood that default would be a disaster,” Schumer said.
For his part, Jeffries stressed that everyone had a common agreement at the meeting that “the only way forward is to reach a bipartisan agreement anchored on the ground.” “We agreed that the suspension of payments is not acceptable and that we must avoid it,” said Jeffries, while noting that they agreed that they have to proceed with “fierce urgency” to reach an agreement on time.