Deadline looming, Biden and McCarthy narrow in on budget deal to lift debt ceiling

Deadline looming, Biden and McCarthy narrow in on budget deal to lift debt ceiling

| Friday 26 May 2023

 Days from a deadline, U.S. President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are narrowing in on a two-year budget deal aiming to curb federal deficits in exchange for lifting the nation's debt ceiling and staving off an economically devastating government default.

The Democratic president and Republican speaker hope to strike a budget compromise this weekend. With Republicans driving for steep cuts, the two sides have been unable to agree to spending levels for 2024 and 2025. Any deal would need to be a political compromise, with support from both Democrats and Republicans to pass the divided Congress.

But the budget flow isn't the only hang-up.

A person familiar with the talks said the two sides are “dug in” on whether or not to agree to Republican demands to impose stiffer work requirements on people who receive government food stamps, cash assistance and health care aid, some of the most vulnerable Americans.

Yet both Biden and McCarthy expressed optimism heading into the weekend that the gulf between their positions could be bridged. A two-year deal would raise the debt limit for that time, past the 2024 presidential election.

“We knew this would not be easy," McCarthy, R-Calif., said as he left the Capitol for the evening Thursday.

McCarthy said, "It’s hard, but we’re working and we’re going to continue to work until we get this done.”

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