Biden asks McCarthy to present GOP budget before Easter recess

President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.)
Greg Nash
President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) leave the Friends of Ireland Luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 17, 2023.

President Biden on Tuesday called on Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Republicans to release a budget proposal before lawmakers leave for Easter recess at the end of the week, reiterating that he would meet with McCarthy once his conference has done so.

“My hope is that House Republicans can present the American public with your budget plan before the Congress leaves for the Easter recess so that we can have an in-depth conversation when you return,” Biden wrote in response to a letter from McCarthy earlier in the day pressing the president over the debt ceiling and government spending.

“As I have repeatedly said, that conversation must be separate from prompt action on the Congress’ basic obligation to pay the Nation’s bills and avoid economic catastrophe,” Biden wrote. “I look forward to your response, to eliminating the specter of default, and to your budget.”

In his letter to McCarthy, Biden urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling without conditions, noting lawmakers have done so for decades. Failing to raise the debt limit could lead to a government default and send the economy spiraling.

Biden expressed an openness to meeting with McCarthy to separately talk about the nation’s finances, but wrote that “for that conversation to be productive, we should both tell the American people what we are for.”

But there are few indications House Republicans will meet Biden’s request.

House Republicans have said their budget, which was originally expected to be released before mid-April, will be delayed due to the White House budget being delayed weeks past the statutory deadline — which is a regular occurrence for presidents.

The White House released Biden’s budget proposal on March 9, which included proposed tax increases on the wealthiest Americans as part of an effort to lower the deficit over 10 years and fund Medicare. The document was essentially dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, but has become a key messaging tool for the White House as it attacks the GOP for lacking its own transparent proposals.

McCarthy and Biden have not held a White House meeting to discuss the debt limit and spending since Feb. 1. In his Tuesday letter, the Speaker asked the White House to reach out to set up a date for their next meeting by the end of the week.

McCarthy also laid out some areas of negotiation, suggesting ideas like reducing nondefense government spending to pre-inflationary levels and limiting out-year growth, rescinding unspent COVID-19 funds, increasing work requirements on those without dependents who receive government assistance, taking measures to “lower energy costs” and increasing security at the U.S.-Mexico border.  

Tags Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy

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