WASHINGTON (TND) — About two months after their first and only in-person discussions on the debt ceiling, the path forward for President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is as unclear as it's ever been to negotiate the debt crisis.
As both sides bring budget talks into the mix, the uncertainty over debt negotations will grow only more opaque.
In letters exchanged by the president and the Speaker this week, McCarthy accused Biden and his team of being "completely missing in action."
He also said that the White House's unwillingness to negotiate on lifting America's borrowing authority "could prevent America from meeting its obligations and hold dire ramifications for the entire nation.
Biden has long said he expects the Republican House majority to support a clean debt ceiling increase. House Republicans have proposed spending cuts as conditions for a debt ceiling increase but have yet to put forth a comprehensive plan.
"Next month when I offer my fiscal plan, I ask my Republican friends to offer their plan," Biden said during his State of the Union address last month. "We can sit down together and discuss both plans together."
In his letter, McCarthy included brief proposals for spending cuts, including: reducing non-defense spending to pre-inflationary levels, reclaiming unspent COVID funds, expanding work requirements for those without dependents who can work, and policies to "grow the economy.
McCarthy asked Biden to have his team reach out to his by the end of the week to set a date for their next meeting.
In his own missive responding to McCarthy, Biden said it would be useful to see the speaker's full proposals before they meet in order to understand their full impact.
The president noted the debt ceiling was raised “by previous Congresses with no conditions attached" calling on "this Congress should act quickly to do so now."
Separately, as you and I discussed earlier, I look forward to talking with you about our Nation’s economic and fiscal future,” he added. “But for that conversation to be productive, we should both tell the American people what we are for.
During her daily briefing to reporters Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre doubled down on Biden's message to the House Republican leader.
We have not seen anything from House Republicans. What we have seen is and heard are excuses after excuses after excuses but they should be transparent to the American people. They should lay out what it is that they want to cut. How do they see moving forward in a fiscally responsible way?” she said.
The president introduced his budget earlier this month. At this point it's unclear how McCarthy will rally his conference on a budget proposal or if it will be done before action is taken on the debt ceiling.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and close McCarthy ally, told Punchbowl News on Tuesday he doesn't see a path to a debt ceiling agreement with Democrats.
“I don’t see how we get there," he said. "And this is a marked change from where I’ve been."