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White House Caves On Debt Limit, Biden Praises McCarthy As ‘Honest Man’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


In an MSNBC interview last week, President Joe Biden appeared to further soften his aggressive stance toward congression Republicans after the passage of a GOP-led bill that raises the debt ceiling limit for the federal government but also requires cuts in spending.

A week ago, Biden reversed his hardline position rejecting the measure and instead requested that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) negotiate the debt limit during a meeting scheduled for May 9 to avoid default, Breitbart News reported.

Citing Punchbowl News, Breitbart added that, during a visit to Israel, McCarthy received a call from Biden to set up a meeting to open those negotiations.

On Wednesday, House Republicans led by McCarthy passed a bill to raise the debt limit, taking the Biden administration by surprise. Reports suggested that the White House was not prepared for the unexpected victory.

A day later, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters: “We are not negotiating on this. We’ve been very clear on this.”

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But on Friday, in an interview aired by MSNBC, Biden appeared to further soften his stance against the measure by taking a calmer tone with McCarthy.

Biden refrained from making a personal attack on McCarthy and instead referred to him as an “honest man.” While the two have only formally negotiated once, McCarthy has been pushing for a follow-up meeting which has been scheduled for next week. Instead of attacking McCarthy, Biden criticized the deal he made with his fellow House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling, Politico reported.

“I think he’s in the position, well, he had to make a deal and that was pretty — you know, 15 votes. Fifteen votes that where he had — just about sold away everything that he — at the far, far right,” he said. “There’s the Republican Party and there’s the MAGA Republicans, and the MAGA Republicans really have put him in a position where in order to stay Speaker, he has to agree — he’s agreed to things that, maybe, he believes, but are just extreme.”

Biden told Ruhle he was not ready to try a workaround for raising the debt ceiling for the time being. She then asked if he would argue that the debt limit was unconstitutional, as his aides are reportedly considering, but Biden replied that he had not “gotten there yet,” according to Politico.

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“Here’s the deal, I think that — first of all, this is not your father’s Republican Party. This is a different group. And I think that we have to make it clear to the American people that I am prepared to negotiate in detail with their budget,” he said. “How much are you going to spend? How much are you going to tax? Where can we cut?”

According to NBC News last week, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., will attend the meeting at the White House on May 9, along with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.”

The report added:

Biden’s invitation was issued hours after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned in a letter that the U.S. could breach the debt ceiling by June 1 — earlier than expected — if Congress doesn’t act in time. The letter set a narrower timeline for Congress to avert a first U.S. default as Congress and the White House remain deadlocked over the issue.

House Republicans insist on attaching spending cuts to a debt ceiling increase, while Democrats vow not to negotiate over whether to pay the country’s bills or default.

The national debt currently stands at more than $31.7 trillion.

During the meeting, the president is planning to “stress” to congressional leaders they “must take action to avoid default without conditions,” adding that the meeting will include discussions regarding “the urgency of preventing default,” as well as how to start the process of negotiating a budget, a White House official told the news network.

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