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Biden and McCarthy hold first White House meeting of divided Congress amid debt ceiling standoff

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President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy were scheduled to hold a critical face-to-face meeting at the White House on Wednesday amidst a tense standoff between the two parties over the debt ceiling and spending, marking the beginning of a new era of divided governance in Congress.
As Democrats and Republicans remain deadlocked over raising the debt ceiling, both leaders aimed to initiate dialogue, albeit amidst what is expected to be a protracted political and economic showdown.
Biden has reiterated his refusal to engage in negotiations with the GOP regarding the nation’s debt ceiling, cautioning against the potential economic upheaval stemming from Republican involvement in the matter.
McCarthy, who narrowly secured the speaker’s position following internal Republican discord, dismissed Biden’s warnings as “political maneuvering,” emphasizing his intention to negotiate on behalf of the American people.
Despite his rhetoric, McCarthy has yet to articulate specific demands from Biden in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. While he has hinted at seeking spending cuts, particularly in Democratic-backed programs, most Republican lawmakers are reluctant to pursue such measures, including cuts to Medicare or Social Security, or tax hikes.
In response, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer challenged McCarthy to present a concrete plan, while his Republican counterpart, Senator Mitch McConnell, argued that voters had endorsed reining in Democratic spending during the midterm elections.
The looming fiscal confrontation over raising the debt ceiling, once a routine procedure, has become a politically charged issue, with House Republicans aiming to leverage the situation to secure budget cuts, despite failing to demand such concessions during the Trump administration’s spending spree.
Fiscal experts, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, have aligned with Biden, emphasizing the imperative to raise the debt ceiling and address spending cuts separately to avoid destabilizing the economy.
The potential consequences of Republican refusal to raise the debt ceiling remain uncertain, with warnings of a possible U.S. default on its financial obligations, precipitating a global financial crisis and threatening the dollar’s status as the dominant international currency.

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