Home World Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy put their brand new relationship to the test with debt ceiling crisis looming

Joe Biden and Kevin McCarthy put their brand new relationship to the test with debt ceiling crisis looming

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President Joe Biden When House Speaker Kevin McCarthy not friends.

Biden’s advisers have described the relationship in bland but respectful terms such as “heartfelt” and “professional.” The president on Tuesday called McCarthy a “decent guy” and the speaker said he could “work with anyone” after a November meeting with Biden and congressional leaders.

For two politicians defined and elevated by their close attention to personal relationships, the gentle nature of the portrayal speaks to their high stakes. Private meeting in the Oval Office.

And after weeks of attempts by both sides to set the terms of the battle between two diametrically opposed paths, debt ceilingexpectations for the meeting are low.

“This is the first round of about 20.” Calm down. ”

Even the meeting itself, which White House officials traditionally see as sitting at the start of a new Congress and where McCarthy called to begin negotiations on the debt ceiling, has been the subject of political controversy and skirmishes.

They are politicians from different generations and different parties who grew up on opposite sides of the country.

One slowly developed his political acumen in the Senate of Congress. Now he’s one lively, often bare-knuckle house. Both of them overcame setbacks, doubts and countless hurdles to reach the peak of their careers, and now find themselves in the ring circling each other like boxers, to define his next two years. I appreciate the dynamics of helpful relationships.

But first, the president and chair must meet the June debt ceiling deadline. If unsuccessful, a devastating economic crisis could loom, and there are few concrete commonalities that point to a clear path forward.

Biden has been adamant about not negotiating the issue, citing former Republican presidents and congressional leaders as urging McCarthy to commit to avoiding brinkman action above the debt ceiling. I plan to ask. If it’s off the agenda, the president will tell McCarthy that he’s willing to join the discussion on reducing U.S. debt.

but he will ask House Republican First Proposal – What White House officials are keenly aware of has significant political value for Democrats and could split the Republican convention.

“Show me your budget. I’ll show you mine.” Biden said repeatedly this week When asked what his message to McCarthy was during a meeting.

McCarthy has repeatedly accused Biden of being irrational.

“It’s irresponsible to say the leader of the free world doesn’t bargain. I hope it’s just the staff, not him,” McCarthy said. I think it’s about settling in. We have a period from now until June, and we’ll find out where we can find savings for the American people.”

In early 2015, Joe Biden invited Kevin McCarthy to his home for a private meeting in hopes of finding common ground.

The two were not close, and Biden was aware of the time he spent building a relationship with McCarthy’s predecessor. considered an important part of his portfolio.

In his 2017 memoir, Biden wrote, “I worked hard to build a relationship with Majority Leader Eric Cantor, but when Eric lost his seat, I had to start over with Kevin McCarthy.

Eight years after Biden invited McCarthy to breakfast at the Naval Observatory, the speaker is again a guest at Biden’s house. I was pushed up.

Even if the stakes have been raised dramatically, the areas of commonality seem even less clear than they were then.

McCarthy cites Biden’s negotiating skills and his deal as vice president on debt ceilings and budget issues as evidence that Biden’s demands are precedented.

White House advisers point to that period as one of the spontaneous turmoil that has brought the U.S. economy to the brink of ruin, and as evidence that negotiations should not have taken place at all. They happily list the times McCarthy voted to raise or suspend the debt ceiling when Republicans were in the White House.

Despite the breakfast of the last Democratic administration, the two have had minimal interaction since Biden became president.

Part of that is due to the role of the minority leader in the House at a time when Democrats controlled the White House and both houses, he said. Democrats were able to move bills through Congress without Republicans, unlike the Senate, where Biden’s main bipartisan legislative proposal required a Republican vote.

Biden also said he and Kentucky Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who appeared with him at an event celebrating a bipartisan infrastructure law in Kentucky last month, had long-running production. building relationships.

“He’s a man who keeps his promises,” Biden said of McConnell at the event. “When he makes a promise to you, you can take it to the bank. You can count on it.” And he’s trying to find common ground to get things done for the country.”

However, White House officials have privately acknowledged McCarthy’s close ties to former President Donald Trump, and weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riots, McCarthy’s not only endorsed him, but also helped restore his status in the Republican Party. Not something Biden ignores.

Asked about McCarthy after the midterm elections, Biden replied, “I think he’s the leader of the Republican Party, but I don’t get many opportunities to talk to him.”

“But I’m going to talk to him,” he added, revealing what the official stressed: He’s working with McCarthy in areas where they have commonalities, similar to how Biden does. do.

In the months since the midterm elections, Biden has spoken to McCarthy twice by phone. They met once. Beyond that, their exchanges were largely through the press, aides, or, in McCarthy’s case, Twitter.

White House officials say McCarthy experienced a degree of schadenfreude in the early stages of a long effort to elect the Republican vote to chairman, by the time McCarthy had suffered 14 failed votes. , which abruptly changed to a palpable sense of bewilderment.

He emerged victorious on the 15th, arguing that the protracted process would help unify the difficult meeting.

“It took me this long to learn how to govern,” McCarthy told reporters.

White House officials, while avoiding complicity in the matter, have taken the opposite view. This is reflected in McCarthy’s approach to the debt ceiling, which has clear doubts about whether he will be able to secure his 218 Republican votes. for nothing.

Biden appeared to hint at those questions at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York City on Tuesday.

“Look what he had to do,” Biden said of the deal McCarthy made with his caucus members to secure their support. had to make a completely off-the-wall promise in terms of being able to be a leader.”

One of these commitments was associated with a debt limit. There will be no increase in the debt ceiling without spending cuts.

That stands in direct contrast to Mr. Biden’s refusal to talk about anything other than a clear price hike. They are deeply involved behind the scenes in preparing for the long battle ahead, keeping a close eye on current and past Republican House legislative proposals.

For now, at least, McCarthy isn’t upset. “Apparently, he doesn’t get it,” McCarthy said when asked about Biden’s allusion to potential weaknesses as a public speaker.

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