Biden, McCarthy to meet again as debt limit deal remains at stalemate

President Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) are set to meet for another round of debt ceiling talks this week, and a deal over raising the borrowing limit remains at a stalemate.

This week’s meeting — which has not been formally announced yet — comes after a gathering scheduled for Friday at the White House between the president and congressional leaders was postponed. It will be the second meeting of the principals this month: Biden huddled with the top four Capitol Hill figures last Tuesday.

Since that face-to-face gathering, however, staff for both sides have been meeting to try to find areas of potential cooperation for a debt limit deal. Some possibilities have emerged, but with less than three weeks out from the June 1 deadline, an agreement is nowhere in sight.

The House this week will mark National Police Week, bringing legislation to the floor related to law enforcement. And Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser is set to testify before the House Oversight Committee during a hearing on crime in the Capitol City.

On the Senate side, members are scheduled to dig into the March collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, which shook financial markets and raised questions about the banking industry.

Biden, McCarthy to meet again on debt limit

Biden and congressional leaders will take another crack at face-to-face negotiations this week when they meet at the White House to discuss the ongoing debt limit dilemma. Multiple sources reported that the meeting will take place Tuesday.

But this huddle — the group’s second in a week — comes after staff has been meeting behind the scenes to find potential areas of bipartisan cooperation for a deal to walk the U.S. off the fiscal cliff by June 1, the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the country could run out of cash by. Last week, however, the Congressional Budget Office said the U.S. could default in the “first two weeks of June.”

Heading into the week, administration officials sounded optimistic.

“The staff is very engaged. I would characterize the engagement as serious, as constructive,” National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that “conversations are constructive between all of the parties.”

“I know the president looks forward to getting together with the leaders to talk about how we continue to make progress,” he added.

Biden and the four congressional leaders — McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — are set to gather this week after Friday’s meeting was postponed.

McCarthy told reporters all parties agreed it would be best for the staff to meet again before the principals came back together. The Speaker, however, said he had not seen “seriousness of the White House that they want a deal,” adding that “it seems like they want a default.”

Since last week’s meeting, however, some potential areas of bipartisan agreement have emerged.

Biden told reporters after the gathering he was open to rescinding unspent COVID-19 relief funds, which House Republicans included in their debt limit bill.

“I’d take a hard look at it, because … we don’t need it all. But the question is, what obligations were made, commitments made, the money not disbursed, etc.,” Biden said.

That is one of the four areas for potential compromise being discussed by House Republicans. Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.), a close McCarthy ally, told reporters last week the lowest-hanging fruits for a deal with Democrats are clawing back unspent COVID-19 funds, permitting reform, work requirements for public assistance programs and spending caps.

Go-at-it-alone avenues, however, are still being floated, leaving Biden a possible escape hatch if the stalemate does not break before the looming deadline. On that list is invoking the 14th Amendment, which in part says, “The validity of the public debt of the United States … shall not be questioned.”

Biden told reporters after last week’s meeting he was “considering” invoking the amendment, but he acknowledged it would not be a viable short-term solution because the move would almost certainly be tied up in the legal system.

On Sunday, Adeyemo told CNN that Biden “made clear that he doesn’t think that would solve our problems now.” It comes after Yellen last week said that invoking the amendment would be “legally questionable,” attract litigation and “would be a constitutional crisis.”

Senate Democrats, nonetheless, are pressing Biden to keep the option on the table to prevent a default rather than agree to the steep spending cuts Republicans are calling for.

“The 14th Amendment is not anyone’s first choice. The first choice is that the Republicans raise the debt ceiling because the United States government never, ever, ever, ever defaults on its legal obligations. But if Kevin McCarthy is going to push the United States over a cliff, then it becomes the president’s responsibility to find an alternative path,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said.

House to mark National Police Week

The House is set to mark National Police Week with votes on several pieces of legislation related to law enforcement.

On the list is a resolution that honors law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. The measure lists the names of the 556 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty that are honored on Peace Officers Memorial Day. That number includes 224 officers killed in 2022 and 332 who were killed in previous years but whose stories were recovered last year.

The resolution also “expresses unwavering support for law enforcement officers across the United States in the pursuit of preserving safe and secure communities.”

The House this week is also set to vote on the Protect Our Law Enforcement with Immigration Control and Enforcement (POLICE) Act, which calls for amending the Immigration and Neutrality Act to make assaulting a law enforcement officer a deportable offense, and a resolution that expresses support for local law enforcement officers and “condemns calls to defund, disband, dismantle or abolish the police.”

Additionally, the chamber this week will consider the Federal Law Enforcement Officer Service Weapon Purchase Act, which would create a program to allow federal law enforcement officers to purchase retired handguns. According to Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.), the sponsor of the bill, federal regulations require federal agencies to destroy weapons when they are retired from official use.

Bowser to testify before House Oversight Committee

Mayor Bowser is scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee at 10 a.m. Tuesday for a hearing titled “Overdue Oversight of the Capital City: Part II.”

The hearing, according to Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.), will focus on crime and safety in D.C. and management of the city. Congressional Republicans have been critical of crime in the capital city.

In addition to Bowser, witnesses will include Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee, City Administrator Kevin Donahue and Matthew Graves, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.

“It’s clear that Americans living in and visiting Washington, D.C., have suffered from haphazard policies that have emboldened criminals. They deserve better,” Comer wrote in a statement last week. “The District of Columbia is a federal district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress, and I intend for the Oversight Committee to fulfill its constitutional duty to conduct oversight of the capital city.”

The hearing comes as Congress has been flexing its muscles against the city. Earlier this year, lawmakers successfully blocked D.C.’s revised criminal code from taking effect when the House and Senate passed and Biden signed a resolution that disapproved of the city’s crime bill.

The D.C. City Council passed the crime bill unanimously in January, but Bowser vetoed it. The council, however, overrode the veto.

And last month, the House passed a resolution to block D.C.’s police accountability bill from taking effect. The White House, however, has said Biden would veto the measure if it landed on his desk.

Tuesday’s hearing will mark the second event the Oversight Committee has held that focused on D.C. In March, the panel held a hearing titled “Overdue Oversight of the Capital City: Part I.” Bowser, however, did not appear at that event.

Senate hearing on Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank collapses

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs is set to hold a hearing this week focused on the collapses of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in March.

The hearing — scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday — will feature testimony from former Silicon Valley Bank CEO Gregory Becker, former Signature Bank President Eric Howell, and Scott Shay, the former chairman and co-founder of Signature Bank.

The hearing comes nearly three weeks after the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report that said regulators did not address serious mismanagement at Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, which in part led to their failures.

Last month, after the GAO report was released, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) — the chairman of the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs — said the panel “must address gaps in the Fed and FDIC’s supervisory structure and we must strengthen the rules weakened by the prior administrations.”

“These reports confirm how poorly managed, overconcentrated, and over-reliant on particular industries both of these banks were. It is also clear that supervision fell short here,” he added in a statement.

The downfall of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, which happened in a matter of days in March, sent shockwaves throughout the U.S. economy and the banking industry while also rattling markets. Earlier this month, regulators seized First Republic Bank, which was sold to JPMorgan Chase.

The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs held a hearing in March following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.

Tags Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy

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