Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) says he will accept President Biden’s invitation for Congress’s top four leaders to meet at the White House next week to discuss the debt limit but insists that Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will be the Republican point person in the talks.
Biden on Monday invited the Democratic and Republican leaders of both chambers of Congress to meet with him May 9 to discuss the debt limit, which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Monday will expire as soon as June 1.
McConnell has insisted for weeks that any deal to raise the debt limit will have to be negotiated between Biden and McCarthy — who also agreed to meet with the president — and that he will not play a role in the talks.
But the Senate GOP leader told reporters that he will accept the invitation to the first meeting between Biden and McCarthy since Feb. 1.
McConnell said Tuesday he received a call from Biden and confirmed, “I’ll be there.”
“But let’s be perfectly clear about where we are. The House has passed a bill which raises the debt ceiling and outlines House Republican priorities. Many people thought that wouldn’t happen. It has,” he said.
“The message to the president at this point is also pretty clear. You got a choice between accepting the House bill or entering into a discussion, which the Speaker has been trying to have with the president for some time, for an agreement between the two of them,” he added.
McConnell reiterated his view that it would not be possible for him to negotiate a deal with Biden, pass it through the Senate and send it to the House.
In other words, he doesn’t plan to strike a deal to raise the debt limit like he did in the summer of 2011 and in the fall of 2021.
“In this situation, and I’ve been a through a few of these debt-ceiling dramas, there is no solution in the Senate. We have divided government. The American people gave the Republicans the House, the Democrats have the presidency. The president and the Speaker need to reach an agreement to get us past this impasse,” he said.
“That’s my message going down to the White House meeting. It will be my message in the White House meeting, and I think that’s clearly the way we get to a solution,” he added.
Biden said again just last week that he would be “happy to meet with McCarthy” but emphasized “not on whether or not the debt limit gets extended,” declaring “that’s not negotiable.”
And on Tuesday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden “has been very clear: He’s not going to negotiate about avoiding default. This is Congress’s Constitutional duty.”