McCarthy calls on Biden to accept spending cuts in debt ceiling fight

Republican U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy called on Democratic President Joe Biden to agree to compromises and spending cuts, Reuters reports.

The two remain deadlocked over raising the nation’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.

McCarthy spoke on Monday the day before Biden is set to make the annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. 

McCarthy spoke first with an aim to get ahead of the president and reinforce his position and his newfound role as the leading congressional negotiator. 

Biden and McCarthy met in the White House last week, after which the Speaker said it was possible to find “common ground” on the debt limit issue. 

But there has been no movement toward a deal yet, as the White House has called for a “clean” debt limit increase not tied to any other spending stipulations. 

The two sides are clashing on the order of the subjects and issues, but both say they will keep talking.

The White House said that Biden will discuss spending cuts with Republicans but only after the debt ceiling is lifted. 

But McCarthy said the Republicans will only lift the debt ceiling if Biden agrees to spend cuts. 

House Republicans want to use the debt ceiling, which covers the spending programs and tax cuts Congress previously approved, as leverage to push spending cuts, after two years of Democratic control of the House and the Senate.

Biden seemed to question McCarthy’s ability to keep Republicans in line last week. 

McCarthy’s rise to the speaker position was a messy battle, with hard-line far-right Republicans staging dragging the process out for days. 

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement ahead of McCarthy’s speech that Biden will use his State of the Union address to highlight deficit reduction measures included in legislation he has signed into law, including increasing taxes on big corporations and dinged Republicans for passing Trump-era tax cuts that added to the debt.

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