Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he believes Democrats would agree to cap government spending in order to avoid a debt default.
Concerns have been raised about a fight between congressional Republicans and Democrats over federal spending, but McCarthy said he wants to discuss the situation preemptively with President Joe Biden.
“I want to sit down with him now, so there is no problem,” McCarthy said on Sunday. “I’m sure he knows there’s places that we can change that put America on a trajectory that we save these entitlements instead of putting it into bankruptcy the way they have been spending.”
He continued, “I believe we can sit down with anybody who wants to work together. I believe this president could be that person.”
McCarthy suggested a necessary step to avoid a debt default would be for Biden and the Democrats to commit to decreased spending, a long-time Republican priority.
The federal government has never reached a point where the Treasury was incapable of fulfilling its debt obligations, but the Treasury Secretary said the United States is now at a point where it could default on its debt as soon as June.
Congress imposes a debt ceiling on the U.S. Treasury — a cap on the total debt that can be incurred to finance the operations of the federal government.
The United States will reach its $31.4 trillion debt limit this week, on January 19, after which “extraordinary measures” must be taken, according to a letter from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to McCarthy.
“Failure to meet the government’s obligations would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy, the livelihoods of all Americans, and global financial stability,” she wrote.
On Sunday, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) said he wants to avoid a debt default, but in order to do so, Democrats must agree to spending cuts.
“Republicans were elected with a mandate from the American people in the midterm elections,” he said. “We campaigned on the fact that we were going to be serious about spending cuts.”
“The Senate is going to have to recognize the fact that we’re not going to budge until we see meaningful reform with respect to spending,” he continued.
Last week, U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, a Republican from Fort Worth, was appointed chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees bills relating to the allocation of federal funding.
“For over two decades, I’ve worked to ensure that taxpayer money is used responsibly and that our military has the resources it needs to protect the American people,” she said. “My colleagues put their trust in me as ranking member, and I am deeply humbled to serve as the first Republican woman to lead the Committee as chair.”
Rep. Chip Roy, another Texas Republican, recently pledged to use the debt ceiling fight to negotiate federal spending reforms.
“I think it’s critical that we change the way we’re doing business, and I intend to use the debt ceiling to ensure that we get fiscal and structural reforms,” he said.
Roy continued, “And I’m not going to bow down just because a few of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle and a few pundits on TV write nasty editorials, and some of my donors, some of the people out there in the world and activists text you, ‘Oh my gosh, what are you doing?! You’re going to risk default on the debt!’”
“You know why I’m not going to do that? Because it’s my job not to back down when people are afraid of what we’re supposed to do here. What we’re supposed to do is bring things to a decision in this body responsibly,” Roy concluded.