Joe Biden held a meeting with Congressional leaders on Tuesday to resolve the debt ceiling issue. The President brought Kevin McCarthy, Hakeem Jeffries, Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer together for about an hour in a meeting in which they all clarified their positions. Hours later, he appeared to backtrack on the 14th Amendment idea to fix the problem, an idea that worries not only Janet Yellen but legal analysts as well.
As for the future, the next meeting between the President and Congressional leaders is expected to be on Friday, May 12. "Everybody in this meeting reiterated the positions they were at. I didn't see any new movement," McCarthy said minutes after the Oval Office meeting ended. Asked if they were able to bring positions closer together, the spokesman replied, "Well, we met, so that's closer."
One of the most controversial positions of the Biden Administration is to use the 14th Amendment to solve the problem, something that caused a stir among analysts. The President first hinted at this possibility in an interview with MSNBC. When explicitly asked about it, the head of state assured that he "had not yet arrived there." Two days later, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that while such a situation would be anything but desirable, it is a real possibility.
However, after the meeting with congressional leaders, the President seems to have changed his mind somewhat. Specifically, Biden cast some doubt on the feasibility of using that remedy. "It would have to be litigated, and in the meantime, without an extension, it'd still end up in the same place," he said.
Our national debt crisis is too important to play politics. That’s why House Republicans voted to avoid default and responsibly raise the debt limit.
Our founders designed our government for negotiation. So let’s get this done. pic.twitter.com/eVmNSLYg5E
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) May 9, 2023
He also stated that, in any case, this alternative could be studied "months later" once the June 1 expiration date has passed. As for this looming date, he assured the United States would meet its debts. "I said I would come back and talk. The one thing I'm ruling out is default, and I'm not going to pass a budget that has massive cuts," he added.
According to Biden, ruling out a default was the only thing everyone could agree upon during the meeting. "Everyone agreed that the deficit - the default on the debt - was off the table," continued the President, who will seek a second term in 2024.
Debt ceiling could delay Biden's international agenda
The head of state plans to travel to Japan next week to participate in the G-7 summit, although he has already stated that he could delay this trip if an agreement with Congress is not reached. Indeed, he called the uncertainty with the debt ceiling "the single most important thing that's on the agenda."
"In other words, if somehow we got down to the wire and we still hadn't resolved this and the due date was in a matter of, when I was supposed to be away. I would not go. I would stay till this gets finished," he added.