McCarthy says he will meet Biden again on U.S. debt ceiling

U.S. House Speaker McCarthy speaks with reporters following his meeting with President Biden at the White House in Washington
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to reporters following his meeting with President Joe Biden about the looming debt ceiling issue at the White House in Washington, U.S. February 1, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Republican U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Thursday that he and President Joe Biden have agreed to meet again for talks on raising the U.S. government borrowing limit.

Biden and McCarthy held initial talks on Wednesday in a first test of how the two could work together. The pair spoke again on Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast, where they sat together.

"He'll give me a call in a couple days to set up the next meeting," the California Republican told reporters. "We're going to meet again about the debt ceiling and ways that we can find ways for savings and put ourselves on a path to balance."

The U.S. government neared its $31.4 trillion debt ceiling earlier this month, prompting the Treasury to warn that it may not be able to stave off default past early June.

The White House has said Biden will discuss federal spending cuts with Republicans, but only after the debt ceiling is lifted, while McCarthy has said Republicans will only lift the ceiling if Biden agrees to spending cuts. While the two sides disagree on the order of the subjects they are tackling, both say they will continue to talk.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Thursday Biden's conversation with McCarthy on Wednesday was productive and White House officials had been in touch with his staff on next steps. She declined to say when the two would speak again.

After Wednesday's meeting, McCarthy said he felt they could find common ground, and the White House said Biden had told McCarthy he was eager to work with Republicans "in good faith."

On Thursday, McCarthy stressed that a debt ceiling solution would need to include spending reforms. "At the end of the day, we're going to get spending reforms," McCarthy said. "You do not lift the debt ceiling without changing your behavior."

Reporting by David Morgan, Katharine Jackson and Susan Heavey; Editing by Alistair Bell

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