WASHINGTON — After weeks of early conversation about how Congress and the White House will tackle raising the debt limit this year, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Joe Biden met on Wednesday to discuss the issue for the first time.
The highly anticipated meeting was viewed as the first step in what is likely to be a months-long fight as Republicans push for spending limits to raise the debt ceiling, while Democrats argue for a clean raise.
McCarthy after the meeting told reporters the conversation didn’t lead to any deal, but that the president and he agreed to continue negotiations.
“I thought this was a good meeting,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, we can find common ground.”
Heading into the meeting, the White House released a memo stating that the president would request McCarthy commit to avoiding default and reveal when he plans to release a budget to see what his spending policies look like.
McCarthy said the U.S. will pay its bills, but did not state when he plans to release his spending structure. The White House is slated to release theirs on March 9, according to the memo.
After the meeting, the Biden administration reiterated the point that it’s the duty of Congress to lift the debt limit, and that it was a “frank and straightforward dialogue.”
Despite McCarthy maintaining that he and Biden still hold different perspectives, he said there is enough room for agreement where a potential long-term deal gets done.
“I believe if we’re able to get an agreement, we could have a funding an agreement for the next two years,” he said. Since 1978, most debt limit agreements have been passed along with other budgetary or spending items.
The next meeting between McCarthy and Biden has yet to be scheduled.