WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Talks on the U.S. debt ceiling between Democratic President Joe Biden and top Republican Congressman Kevin McCarthy ended after less than an hour on Tuesday, with fears of an unprecedented U.S. default prompting Biden to discuss Asia’s upcoming The journey had to be cut short.
However, the meeting ended on an unexpectedly optimistic note, as McCarthy walked out of the meeting with Biden and other congressional leaders saying: “A deal is possible by the end of the week.”
House Speaker McCarthy told reporters that Biden was trying to set a debt limit by June 1 to avert the risk of an economic disaster.
“We have a lot to do in a short amount of time,” McCarthy told reporters.
Biden and McCarthy sat in the Oval Office with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
The president left on Wednesday for a three-day G7 summit in Japan, but a source said Biden decided to stop in Papua New Guinea and Australia on Tuesday.
Before the Oval Office meeting, aides to Biden and McCarthy discussed the needs of two key programs that provide food and cash aid to families, with talks last week raising the government’s debt limit. government, which is $31.4 trillion, to avoid a catastrophic default financially.
Expanding job search requirements has been a key demand of Republicans, who are pushing for spending cuts in exchange for their votes to raise the debt ceiling.
Biden and McCarthy have little time to reach an agreement.
On Monday, the Treasury Department reiterated its warning that it could run out of money to pay all its bills as soon as June 1, triggering a default that economists say would likely lead to a sharp economic downturn.
On Tuesday, McCarthy told reporters that his party, which controls the House by a 222-213 margin, would only accept a spending-cutting deal.
“If we limit what we’re going to spend in the future, we can raise the debt ceiling,” McCarthy told reporters.
Both sides agree on the need to take immediate action.