Republican senators criticize White House and Democrats for waiting to negotiate on debt limit
From CNN's Morgan Rimmer
Republican senators criticized the White House and Democrats for waiting to negotiate on the debt limit.
“I just don’t understand why (Sen. Chuck Schumer) sat on his butt this whole time, Biden sat on his butt the whole time that, we've known about this problem since even probably before January, and now we're just within two weeks, and they're finally waking up to say that, ‘you know, we're gonna have to talk to people,’” said Sen. Rick Scott after congressional leaders met with President Joe Biden Tuesday.
“We lost time because President Biden refused to meet with Speaker McCarthy and gambled that Speaker McCarthy could not pass a plan — Speaker McCarthy did," Sen. John Kennedy said.
He added, “I think they will eventually reach an agreement because I don’t think President Biden either morally or politically wants to be responsible for defaulting on the debt of the United States of America."
Scott also said Biden should cancel his trip to Japan, after already cutting the trip short and canceling his stops in Papua New Guinea and Australia. “I think he should not leave and he should focus on the debt limit here at home.”
5:55 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023
Biden calls meeting on debt ceiling productive and says he is confident negotiations will progress
From CNN's Allie Malloy
President Joe Biden called his Tuesday meeting with top lawmakers on the debt ceiling productive and said he is confident negotiations will progress.
“There is still work to do but I made it clear to the (House speaker) and others that we’ll speak directly over the next several days and the staff is going to continue meeting daily to make sure we do not default,” Biden said.
Biden added that there was “an overwhelming consensus” in today’s meeting that “defaulting on the debt is simply not an option.”
Biden did take a swipe at Republicans saying it’s “disappointing that Republicans are unwilling to discuss raising revenues," but added, “policy differences between the parties should not stop Congress from avoiding default.”
“I made it clear again in today’s meeting that default is not an option. America pays its debts, pays its bills, there will be plenty of time to debate the policy differences but the country has never defaulted on our debt and we never will,” the president said. “I’m confident we’re gonna continue to make progress toward avoiding default and fulfilling America’s responsibilities as a leader on the world stage.”
Biden noted he is scheduled to leave Wednesday for Japan to attend the G7 summit and said the “nature of the presidency is addressing many of the critical matters all at once.”
McCarthy appoints Graves to negotiate with White House officials on debt limit
From CNN's Manu Raju and Haley Talbot
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced that his staff and Republican Rep. Garret Graves will negotiate with Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and White House aide Steve Ricchetti going forward on the debt limit.
McCarthy said the difference in the process now is they have a format and a structure.
“Nothing has been resolved in this negotiation. The only thing that has changed is we finally have a format that has proven to work in all the years in the past,” he added.
"I did think this one was a little more productive,” McCarthy said as he arrived back in the US Capitol. "We're a long way apart. But what changed in this meeting was the president has now selected two people from his administration to directly negotiate with us.”
McCarthy said no consensus on policy was reached during Tuesday's White House meeting — including how much they are seeking in budget cuts as well as how long they will extend the debt ceiling for.
"In the Republican plan we raised it $1.5 trillion, we cut almost $5 trillion or made savings found the savings. And then anytime somebody wants to raise the debt ceiling more, show me where you want to save more. That's really the framework that we laid out," McCarthy said.
"We're open to (discussing) but from the same perspective is — we're able to save $5 trillion to raise the debt ceiling and you want to go longer. You got to be open to doing more items,” he added.
The speaker said that his message to the president during the meeting was, "Time is of the essence. We can go round and round more. But I don't think that's going to be productive and you're going to bumble your way into a default and I don't want that for the American public.”
5:24 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023
McConnell says Biden designating someone to speak with McCarthy is a key takeaway from White House meeting
From CNN's Nicky Robertson and Ted Barrett
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the “most encouraging” takeaway from the debt limit meeting at the White House was that President Joe Biden had designated someone to talk with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“The most encouraging thing to come out of this meetingwe just had was the president seems to have designated someone to speak with Speaker McCarthy, which I have been recommending since February,” McConnell told reporters. “Hopefully that will lead to an outcome quickly because we’re running out of time.”
He would not comment on people who could potentially facilitate talks, but said that he thinks Biden will pick a person “who he trusts to do the job.”
4:52 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023
White House confirms Biden will cancel Papua New Guinea and Australia visits due to debt ceiling
From CNN's Allie Malloy
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Tuesday that President Joe Biden will cut his upcoming foreign trip short and cancel visits to Papua New Guinea and Australia, in “order to be back for meetings with Congressional leaders to ensure that Congress takes action by the deadline to avert default.”
Jean-Pierre said Biden spoke to Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese earlier Tuesday to inform him he will be “postponing” the trip and invited the prime minister for an official state visit “at a time to be agreed by the teams.”
Jean-Pierre added that the “President’s team engaged” with the prime minister of Papua New Guinea.
5:29 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023
Biden says he's optimistic there is a path forward on a bipartisan budget agreement
From CNN's Allie Malloy
President Joe Biden is optimistic about a potential deal following his meeting about the debt limit with congressional leaders Tuesday, according to a White House readout.
“The President emphasized that while more work remains on a range of difficult issues, he’s optimistic that there is a path to a responsible, bipartisan budget agreement if both sides negotiate in good faith and recognize that neither side will get everything it wants," the White House said.
According to the readout, Biden will “check-in” with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other top lawmakers this week by phone.
The president plans to meet with them when he returns from his trip to Japan, where he will attend the G7 summit. Earlier today White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed Biden will cut his upcoming foreign trip short and cancel visits to Papua New Guinea and Australia due to the debt ceiling and the meetings around it.
5:15 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023
Democrats say Tuesday's debt ceiling meeting "much more cordial" as they call for finding "common ground"
From CNN's Nikki Carvajal and Maureen Chowdhury
Democratic leaders said Tuesday’s White House meeting on the debt ceiling was “much more cordial” than last week’s meeting with Republicans and President Joe Biden – and that “we all agreed that default is not an acceptable option.”
“Look, it was a good and productive meeting,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters outside the Oval Office late Tuesday afternoon. “Everyone agreed that default would be the worst outcome, a horrible situation for America and America's families.”
That’s a change from last week, when House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reportedly refused to take defaulting off the table. Schumer said the leaders agreed, “that we need to pass a bipartisan bill with bipartisan support in both chambers,” in order to raise the debt limit. He said that McCarthy also agreed the bill needed to be bipartisan.
“And his bill, of course, is not a bipartisan bill,” Schumer said, “so the bottom line is that we all came to agreement that we were going to continue discussions in the way that I believe Speaker McCarthy described, which was agreed to by all of us in the room together, and hopefully we can come to an agreement.”
Schumer said that the only way for negotiations on the debt limit to move forward is for both parties to find common ground.
"We're not going to get into negotiations out here. We have to come to common ground," Schumer said. "That is the only way this is ever gotten done. It has never gotten done with one party saying, 'You have to do it my way.' You have to get both parties in both houses together."
Schumer said that during the meeting with Biden, leaders from both sides agreed that a default would be "a disaster. Full stop."
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries also described the meeting as “positive,” and said it was “much more cordial,” than the last meeting. The talks, he said, were “honest, and real discussions about differences that we have on a whole variety of issues, but it was all respectful.”
When asked by a reporter what that common ground could look like, Schumer responded, “you’ll know it when you see it.”
“What that means is that we will not sacrifice our values, they'll probably not sacrifice their values, but we'll have to come together on something that can avoid default,” he said.
Schumer added that leaders are closer to reaching a deal stating, "it was a much more cordial meeting. There were honest and real discussions about differences that we have on a whole variety of issues. But it was all respectful. And that was a good sign as well."
4:39 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023
McCarthy says GOP and Democrats still far apart on debt limit — but deal is possible by end of week
From CNN's Allie Malloy and Maureen Chowdhury
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters it is “possible” to get a deal by the end of the week — but said that he and the White House are still very far apart on negotiations.
"You said earlier this week that you're still very far apart," a reporter told McCarthy Tuesday following his meeting at the White House with President Joe Biden. The House speaker responded, "We are."
"You're still very far apart at this point?" the reporter followed up and McCarthy responded, "Yes."
The California Republican projected some optimism, saying the White House agreed to direct negotiations between his office and the White House.
“The president changed the scope of who’s all negotiating. Instead of all four leaders, he’s finally taking Leader McConnell’s advice. ... Appoint somebody from the president’s team who can work with the speakers team to see if we can come to an agreement,” McCarthy said.
“So the structure of how we negotiate has improved. So it now gives you a better opportunity, even though we only have a few days to get it done had we done this back 97 days ago — we’d already have a bill passed.”
“It is possible to get a deal by the end of the week,” McCarthy told reporters.
McCarthy would not weigh in on whether Biden should cancel his trip to Japan for the G7 saying, “The president is the president of the United States. He can make his own decisions on what’s best and how to use it.”
4:37 p.m. ET, May 16, 2023
Biden is canceling foreign trip stops to Papua New Guinea and Australia amid debt ceiling negotiations
Biden will still travel to Japan as part of what was supposed to be a week-long trip through the Pacific region.
Earlier Tuesday, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told reporters the White House was “reevaluating” the stops to Papua New Guinea and Australia due to the debt ceiling.
“What I can speak to is the G7 and going to Hiroshima. The president is looking forward to that. We are taking a look at the rest of the trip,” Kirby told reporters.