House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., says that “there’s a number of places that we’re still far apart” on the debt ceiling as negotiations continue in the nation’s capital.

“I mean, it didn’t seem like it’d be this hard. I remember even talking to the incoming Democratic leader before I was even speaker about ways that we could work together on a debt ceiling,” McCarthy said at a news conference at the Capitol today. “[House Minority Leader] Hakeem [Jeffries] told me he was going to follow the president’s lead.”

McCarthy said at the beginning of his remarks that he is sending Republican negotiators to the White House to try and finalize a deal.

“I went down to meet with the president right after becoming speaker, as you all know, on Feb. 1. I said, ‘Let’s sit down. Let’s work together,’” McCarthy added. “The Democrats, they could’ve lifted the debt ceiling prior to me becoming speaker.”

“They passed an omnibus bill, but they decided not to do the rising of the debt ceiling, even though they thought people should just raise it cleanly,” the speaker said.

The speaker was critical that President Joe Biden waited 97 days to discuss the issue with him.

“He could have spoken to me and said, ‘We were wrong on that other angles,’ but he didn’t. And now we’re eight days away from Biden having [a] default. I don’t want that to happen,” McCarthy said. “That’s why the Republicans in the House in April lifted the debt ceiling with commonsense, sensible things.”

On April 26, the House of Representatives passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which aims to “limit federal spending, save taxpayer dollars,” and “grow the economy.” The legislation passed 217-215 in the House, but did not get a single vote from any Democrat. 

Biden, who returned home on Sunday after the G7 summit in Japan, and McCarthy met once again on Monday to discuss the debt ceiling. Though a deal has yet to be reached, both leaders called the meeting “productive.”

“We reiterated once again that default is off the table and the only way to move forward is in good faith toward a bipartisan agreement,” Biden said in a statement. “While there are areas of disagreement, the speaker and I, and his lead negotiators, [House Financial Services Committee] Chairman [Patrick] McHenry and Congressman [Garret] Graves, and our staffs will continue to discuss the path forward.”

Biden and McCarthy’s meeting occurred the same day as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen renewed warnings about the debt ceiling.

“I am writing to follow up on my previous letters regarding the debt limit and to provide additional information regarding the Treasury Department’s ability to continue to finance the operations of the federal government,” Yellen wrote in letters to McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y.; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

“In my May 15 letter, I noted that our best estimate was that Treasury would be unable to continue to satisfy all of the government’s obligations by early June if Congress does not raise or suspend the debt limit before that time,” Yellen wrote. “In that letter, I also noted that while it is impossible to predict with certainty the exact date when Treasury will be unable to pay all the government’s bills, I would continue to update Congress as more information becomes available.”

Yellen added, “With an additional week of information now available, I am writing to note that we estimate that it is highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1.”

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