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McCarthy says he will meet Biden after ‘productive’ debt ceiling call

WASHINGTON — After speaking to President Joe Biden by phone Sunday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, said they agreed to meet in person Monday afternoon to work out an agreement on lifting of the debt ceiling.

McCarthy and Biden discussed the debt ceiling during a call on Sunday as the president returned to Air Force One from the G-7 summit in Japan, after negotiations last week between top White House aides and House Republicans failed to break a deadlock.

“I think my discussion with the president was productive,” McCarthy told NBC News after their call, adding that the president asked to meet in person on Monday and accepted the offer.

“I think we can fix some of these issues,” McCarthy said. “But I was very clear with him from the start, we need to spend less money than we spent last year.”

McCarthy said the two sides were “still apart,” but he and the president decided on their call to bring their negotiators together.

“Let them inform the president, let him get some sleep. And he wanted to meet personally tomorrow, I agreed, we would in the afternoon,” he said. “Time is running out.

A White House official confirmed Monday’s upcoming meeting between Biden and McCarthy and said their staff would also meet at 6 p.m. Sunday evening to discuss remaining issues.

McCarthy praised the White House negotiators for engaging in “very professional” discussions.

“I have a lot of respect for the members of the president’s team,” he said. “They are brilliant, they express themselves, they know exactly what they are doing. We may disagree philosophically, but we respect each other, because we come from a place of principles. And when you come from a place of principles, normally at the end of the day, you can find common ground and keep your principles at the same time.

The call between Biden and McCarthy came shortly after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that early June was a “tough deadline” for the federal government to raise the cap. debt and warned that the bills will go unpaid if Congress doesn’t reach a deal before the United States runs out of money.

“I indicated in my last letter to Congress that we anticipate not being able to pay all of our bills by early June and possibly as early as June 1. And I will continue to update Congress, but I certainly have not changed my assessment,” Yellen said. “So I think it’s a tough time frame.”

At a press conference in Japan on Sunday, the president urged Republicans to “come out of their extreme positions”, which he called “frankly unacceptable”, in his opening speech.

“It’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be struck solely on their own partisan terms,” ​​he said. “They also have to move.”

Republicans returned to the debt ceiling negotiating table Friday night after temporarily suspending talks with the White House, which they said were “not productive.”

Part of the stalemate in the negotiations is that House Republicans want to push through major spending cuts that Biden opposes and which are dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Democrats are reluctant to agree to a spending limit lower than current levels, a source familiar with the party’s position told NBC News last week. The party may prefer to maintain existing levels, even if it means a new spending deal fails and the government runs on autopilot through continued resolution.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., who was tapped by McCarthy to lead the negotiations with the White House, told reporters on Sunday that “a lot of progress” had been made in debt ceiling talks.

“If you go through the laundry list of about 50 items, we’ve made a lot of progress,” Graves said. “Understanding each other’s positions, understanding the red lines. And so I think we’ve been able to really get closer, a lot closer than we were when we started.

Caroline Keny contributed.

nbcnews Gt

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