House Speaker McCarthy says debt ceiling negotiations can’t resume until Biden returns from G-7 summit

U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters with U.S. Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) at his side following debt limit talks at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2023. 

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The on-again, off-again deliberations on Capitol Hill surrounding the debt ceiling are back off-again, as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Saturday Republicans will only continue negotiations when President Joe Biden returns from the Group of Seven Summit in Japan.

“Unfortunately, the White House moved backwards,” McCarthy said about the current deliberations surrounding the debt ceiling. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to move forward until the president can get back in the country,” he added.

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On Saturday evening, the Biden administration countered that it was the Republicans who on Friday made an offer on the debt ceiling that was “a big step back,” asserting that the proposal contained “extreme partisan demands that could never pass both Houses of Congress.”

“It is only a Republican leadership beholden to its MAGA wing — not the President or Democratic leadership — who are threatening to put our nation into default for the first time in our history unless extreme partisan demands are met,” according to a statement by Biden press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Biden is scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., from the G-7 summit on Sunday. The president said at a press conference from the summit that he is “not at all” concerned about the negotiations and believes “we’ll be able to avoid a default and we’ll get something decent done.”

McCarthy’s revelation that the talks are on pause again, at least for now, is the latest hurdle facing the debate in Congress on what to do with the pending debt limit. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pegged June 1 as the earliest date on which the United States could run out of money to pay debts the government has already incurred.

Any deal to raise or suspend the debt limit will need to pass in both the GOP-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, and key lawmakers in both parties have acknowledged that the eventual compromise bill could be unacceptable to hardliners.

The high-stakes talks over raising the debt limit resumed in the Capitol on Friday evening, hours after they were paused at midday when Republican negotiators walked out of the room, blaming the White House for holding up discussions.