McCarthy calls on Biden to restart debt ceiling talks, offering to bring 'soft food' to the White House
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he will bring “soft food” for President Joe Biden if it will nudge the president to the negotiating table over the debt ceiling – something he's refused – in an apparent jab over Biden’s age.
Biden has been unwilling to entertain spending cuts demanded by Republicans amid a standoff on raising the amount the U.S. can borrow to avert going into default and igniting an economic crisis.
“I don’t know what more I can do and how easy,” McCarthy told reporters Thursday of Biden's refusal to participate in budget cut talks. “I would bring the lunch to the White House, and I would make it soft food if that’s what he wants. It doesn’t matter. Whatever it takes to meet.”
Biden, 80, is already the oldest-serving president. He would be 86 when he finishes a second term if he's reelected in 2024.
What’s the GOP budget?
House Republicans have yet to release a formal budget proposal that specifies the cuts they want, an absence that Biden has repeatedly criticized.
In a letter to McCarthy, Biden said he will have an “in-depth conversation” with the speaker once House Republicans introduce a formal budget.
The Republican-led House Budget Committee floated potential cuts that include work requirements for food stamps, environmental reductions, rescinding unspent COVID-19 rescue funds, reducing Obamacare subsidies and halting Biden's plan to forgive student loan debt.
Related: Biden's budget calls for new taxes on wealthy, deficit cuts. Here's what the GOP is proposing
White House responds to McCarthy's 'soft food' jab
The White House brushed off McCarthy's offering of 'soft food' at its daily press briefing Thursday.
"I think the president is able to pick out his own Starbucks,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in response to McCarthy. “What we really need from Speaker McCarty and House Republicans is to see their budget. Where’s the budget?"
Jean-Pierre pointed to Biden’s budget proposal, released March 9, and reiterated the president’s position not to negotiate spending cuts with Republicans as part of raising the debt ceiling.
“It is their constitutional duty to get this done,” she said of Congress. “We should not be negotiating on the debt ceiling.”
Biden and McCarthy last met to discuss the debt ceiling on Feb. 1., 58 days ago.
“That’s for him to respond to, not for me,” Jean-Pierre said when asked whether McCarthy’s quip suggests he isn’t serious about raising the debt ceiling.
Debt ceiling must be raised
The debt ceiling must be raised sometime before summer, according to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and the Congressional Budget Office. So far, the Treasury Department has taken extraordinary measures to continue paying the government’s debts, but the onus is on Congress to raise the debt ceiling.
If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the government would default on its debts, potentially causing global economic catastrophe.
Deficits and debt: Understanding the difference in Biden's 2024 budget proposal
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: McCarthy offers to bring Biden 'soft food' in debt ceiling talks