President Joe Biden defended not meeting sooner with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) on the debt ceiling just hours after Tuesday’s summit with congressional leaders.
Financial experts predict the federal government will run out of money as soon as June 1. The Republican House has already passed a bill to avoid default and cut wasteful spending.
“The speaker is saying he’s been trying to get me to sit down with him for 97 days. Ninety-seven days ago we did meet in my office. I said to him at the time, ‘I’m happy to talk with you. You submit your budget, I’ll submit mine, and we’ll talk about it,’” Biden explained. “I submitted my budget on March 9th in detail. He passed his plan, I think, in the last or second to last week in April.”
Biden acknowledged it took five days for him to invite McCarthy to negotiate the Republican bill to raise the debt ceiling and prevent default. A week later, the two finally sat down to negotiate.
“Five days later, after he finally put forward something, I called on him to invite him to a meeting with the other leading members of Congress,” Biden admitted.
“The president has waited 97 DAYS without ever meeting. Every day I asked that we meet and he said no,” says @SpeakerMcCarthy.
“The House has raised the debt ceiling in a responsible matter … does [Biden] not believe there’s any place we could find savings?” pic.twitter.com/vIRCp5JLyW
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) May 9, 2023
Biden also noted he is thinking about using the 14th Amendment. Using the language of the 14 Amendment would permit the president to continue to issue debt to fund the federal government. The 14th Amendment says the public debt “shall not be questioned.”
“I have been considering the 14th Amendment,” Biden threatened. “But the problem is it would have to be litigated. And in the meantime, without an extension.”
“I’ll be blunt with you, [after] we get by this [debt negotiation], I’m taking a look at months down the road to see what the court would say, whether or not it does work,” he added.
When asked if he trusted McCarthy, Biden said he trusts “Kevin will try to do what he says.”
“I don’t know that — I don’t know how much leeway Kevin McCarthy thinks he has,” he added.
The two men have agreed to meet again on Friday — before Biden travels to Papua New Guinea to promote “inclusive economic growth”
Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.