Biden, Congressional Leaders Change ‘Scope’ Of Who Is Negotiating Over Debt Ceiling

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Diana Glebova White House Correspondent
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President Joe Biden met with Congressional leaders Tuesday for another conservation on the debt ceiling, weeks away from possible default.

In the meeting, Biden and the leaders changed “the scope” of who is negotiating, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said.

“What has changed in this meeting is the president changed the scope of who’s all negotiating… Appoint somebody from the president’s team who could work with the speaker’s team to see if we could come to an agreement. That is what the decision was made in this meeting,” the House speaker said. 

“So the structure of how we negotiate has improved. So it now now gives you a better opportunity, even though we only have a few days to get it done. Had we done this back ninety seven days ago, we’d already have a bill passed,” he added. (RELATED: Biden, McCarthy Delay Debt Ceiling Talks As Potential Default Looms)

Biden is “optimistic” about reaching a deal and has “directed staff to continue to meet daily on outstanding issues,” the White House said.

“He said that he would like to check in with leaders later this week by phone, and meet with them upon his return from overseas,” the White House added.

The leaders are scrambling to come to an agreement on raising the debt ceiling, as the federal government may go into default as soon as June 1, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned. Biden and McCarthy are at odds on how to come to an agreement because the California Republican is trying to pair the raise with spending cuts.

Tuesday’s conservation included Biden, McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris.

Biden and the Congressional leaders met May 9 and additional debt ceiling talks had been scheduled for Friday, but were delayed.

The timeline for talks is shortened even more due to Biden’s Wednesday trip to Japan for the G7 summit. The administration is currently “reevaluating” additional pre-planned stops to Australia and Papua New Guinea amid the debt ceiling talks, White House national security council spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday. 

The president has stressed that a default is “not an option.”

McCarthy expressed less optimism before Tuesday’s meeting, saying the lack of an agreement on the debt ceiling is “very concerning” to him.

“There’s no progress that I see,” he told reporters Monday about the weekend staff-level talks, according to The Associated Press. “And it really concerns me with the timeline of where we are.”