Mar 30, 2023 - Politics & Policy

McCarthy threatens to go it alone on debt ceiling

Kevin McCarthy

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Thursday that House Republicans are prepared to try to raise the debt limit on their own if President Biden doesn't return to the negotiating table.

Why it matters: It marks a strategy shift by the House speaker as Biden demands Republicans present a budget plan before he engages in talks – which they appear strongly disinclined to do.

Driving the news: During a Q&A with reporters at the Capitol on Thursday, McCarthy said his conference is "very close" to an agreement on spending cuts to tie to a debt ceiling hike, adding: "If the president doesn't act, we will."

  • "We have been reasonable, responsible, asked to sit down with the president for months ... I don't know what more I can do," McCarthy said.

Details: McCarthy cited proposals he made in a letter to Biden on Tuesday requesting a meeting as examples of spending cuts that could be tied to a debt ceiling measure.

  • They include clawing back unspent COVID aid, work requirements for welfare programs and Republicans' bill to cut down environmental requirements for energy projects.

Reality check: With a five-vote margin in the House and Democrats controlling the Senate and White House, it will be exceedingly difficult for House Republicans' debt ceiling legislation to become law.

  • McCarthy pointed to the Senate passing — and Biden signing — House GOP resolutions blocking a D.C. crime law and ending the COVID national emergency as reasons to be optimistic.
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