The White House said Tuesday that President Joe Biden will put forth his proposed U.S. spending plan on March 9, setting a deadline ahead of his meeting with the U.S. House’s Republican leader on Wednesday to discuss the nation’s spending.
Biden will call on House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy during their White House meeting to commit to release a budget plan as well and to pledge to meet the nation’s debt obligations, according to a White House memo seen by Reuters.
McCarthy and his fellow conservatives, who narrowly won control of the House last November, are threatening to block a regular increase of the nation’s debt limit unless Biden pledges lower spending; Biden has said any negotiation on previously approved U.S. spending was a non-starter.
Republicans have not yet agreed on how fiscal spending should be trimmed, or firmed up the parameters of a 2023 budget. The White House has seized on the lack of consensus to highlight fringe proposals from some Republicans, including one that abolishes the Internal Revenue Service in favor of a higher sales tax and one that trims the Social Security retirement plan.
Asked what his message will be for McCarthy, Biden told reporters on Monday: “Show me your budget, I’ll show you mine.”
While the president can propose a budget plan, both houses of Congress must pass any spending legislation. Biden’s fellow Democrats narrowly control the Senate, where spending bills need 60 votes to pass. The House needs a simple majority to pass these bills; McCarthy has ruled out cuts to Social Security and Medicare, the two largest benefit programs.
The showdown over the growing U.S. debt threatens to roil the global economy if the United States defaults. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the country may reach its debt limit as soon as June and has called on Congress to take swift action.
The Treasury Department has already started taking “extraordinary measures” to stave off a default until summer after hitting the U.S. government’s $31.4 trillion borrowing limit earlier in January.
On Wednesday, Biden plans to ask McCarthy if he will “commit to the bedrock principle that the United States will never default on its financial obligations” and if he agrees “that it is critical to avoid debt brinksmanship.”
“I want to find a reasonable and a responsible way that we can lift the debt ceiling, but take control of this runaway spending,” McCarthy, who could not be immediately reached for comment, told CBS News on Sunday.
“I want to sit down together, work out an agreement that we can move forward, to put us on a path to balance – at the same time, not put any … of our debt in jeopardy.”