The United States is barreling closer and closer to defaulting on its debt. Will President Joe Biden cave in negotiations with Republicans?
So far, the president has maintained he won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling, but the closer we get to the deadline, the less clear that is.
Reuters reported late Thursday, citing two anonymous sources, that White House officials think they will have to accept some spending cuts or spending caps in order to make a deal.
Biden also may have been hinting at budget cuts himself in an event this week. “We should be cutting spending and lowering the deficit without a needless crisis, in a responsible way,” he said at an event in New York on Thursday.
The president postponed a meeting with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy originally scheduled for Friday. But aides for the White House and the House and Senate leaders met Friday and will meet over the weekend, according to presidential spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre, who said there was “progress” in the talks.
During her daily press briefing, she did not say what had been discussed during negotiations, but she said that Biden remained firm in his refusal to compromise on the debt ceiling more generally.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the United States could run out of money to pay its bills as soon as June 1, earlier than initially anticipated, unless the debt ceiling is raised or suspended. In a letter to Congress two weeks ago, she said it was “imperative” for the government to act as soon as possible.
Democrats and Republicans have been locked in a protracted battle over the debt limit, which the GOP has indicated it’s willing to hold hostage in order to reduce government spending. Biden has staunchly maintained that the U.S. has to pay its bills, but there have been indications in recent days that he is willing to compromise on budget cuts.
Jean-Pierre said Friday that the budget negotiations are separate from discussions about the debt ceiling. But it would be disappointing if Biden did compromise on his budget. His plan included ambitious goals for expanding childcare assistance, health insurance, and wealth taxes—all things that would benefit the U.S. but that Republicans want to slash.
But with the deadline moving ever closer, can he pull it off?