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Biden asks McCarthy to produce GOP budget plan as they spar over debt ceiling

U.S. President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy traded letters Tuesday concerning negotiations over budget proposals and raising the debt ceiling. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
U.S. President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy traded letters Tuesday concerning negotiations over budget proposals and raising the debt ceiling. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

March 29 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden has called on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to produce the Republican Party's budget proposal before the Easter recess, as the two spar over the debt ceiling.

Biden made the request Tuesday in a letter he sent to McCarthy, in response to the one the California Republican had sent him earlier that day demanding a meeting to discuss the debt limit as the June deadline approaches.

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The president and his Democratic Party have been steadfast on raising the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, which Congress has done 78 times since 1960, the majority of which occurred during Republican presidencies, including thrice during the previous Trump administration.

However, Republicans have sought to use their newly founded majority in the House to push back against Democratic spending, an issue that they have attempted to tie to raising the debt ceiling.

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The two last discussed issues of the debt ceiling on Feb. 1, after which Biden produced his budget proposal earlier this month that includes tax increases on the nation's wealthiest, lowering healthcare and housing costs, protecting social security benefits and strengthening Medicare, among other propositions.

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In his letter to Biden on Tuesday, McCarthy called for a meeting to discuss Biden's budget proposal and the debt ceiling, while describing the president as having been "completely missing in action" concerning such discussions.

"I am incredibly concerned that you are putting an already fragile economy in jeopardy by insisting upon your extreme position of refusing to negotiate any meaningful changes to out-of-control government spending alongside an increase of the debt limit," McCarthy wrote in his letter to the president. "Your position -- if maintained -- could prevent America from meeting its obligations and hold dire ramifications for the entire nation."

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"Mr. President, simply put: you are on the clock," he said. "It's time to drop the partisanship, roll up our sleeves and find common ground on this urgent challenge."

Biden responded by stating that they can have "in-depth conversation" about budget proposals after the Easter break if McCarthy can produce his party's plan prior to the end of the week, but those discussions are separate from Congress' obligation to raise the debt ceiling.

"I look forward to your response, to eliminating the specter of default and to your budget," Biden said in his letter to McCarthy.

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Separately, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reiterated in a statement in response to McCarthy's letter that Congress has an obligation to the debt limit.

"It's time for Republicans to stop playing games, pass a clean debt ceiling bill and quit threatening our economic recovery," she said.

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