Debt Ceiling Deal Remains Elusive

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden meet in the Oval Office on May 22, 2023. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden agreed Monday night that their latest debt ceiling talks were “productive.” Yet that’s about as far as their agreements go with only nine days until the June 1 deadline for default.

Disagreement over just how much to limit government spending rests at the heart of the talks. GOP lawmakers are aiming to cut federal spending by more than $130 billion. McCarthy emphasized Monday night that, at the very least, Republicans want to spend less money in the upcoming fiscal year than Congress did in this fiscal year. The White House opposes that idea and is reportedly open to spending caps that freeze spending for many programs at current levels.

It’s not clear how the two sides will square that circle, though they could consider capping spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, adjusted for inflation, as a compromise.

The two sides also disagree on how long to impose caps on spending. Republicans want to cap annual spending growth at 1 percent for a decade, while Democrats have pushed to keep caps for just the next two years.

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