Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said ahead of a meeting with President Biden this week that cuts to Medicare and Social Security are off the table in talks around raising the debt limit.
McCarthy has said that Republicans want commitments to spending reductions in exchange for raising the debt limit but has been unclear about what exactly the GOP would be willing to cut. While he said Medicare and Social Security slashes are off the table in his interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, he essentially said everything else, including defense spending, is under the microscope.
“I want to make sure we’re protected in our defense spending, but I want to make sure it’s effective and efficient,” McCarthy said. “I want to look at every single dollar we are spending, no matter where it is being spent.”
McCarthy came under fire from some in his party for possibly eyeing defense cuts. In order to become Speaker, he made a deal with some Republican holdouts that he would roll back defense spending to 2022 levels. The agreement drew the ire of some conservatives, who said any cut to defense spending would be irresponsible.
“You’re gonna tell me inside defense there’s no waste?” McCarthy asked on Sunday. “We shouldn’t just print more money. We should balance our budget.”
The White House has said that it will not negotiate with Republicans on spending cuts, but McCarthy sounded more optimistic about the possibility that Biden would make concessions on spending in a meeting with the Speaker on Wednesday.
“I know his staff tries to say something different, but I think the president is gonna be willing to make an agreement together,” McCarthy said.
The U.S. reached its statutory debt limit of around $31.4 trillion earlier this month, but the Treasury Department is taking measures to be able to pay the government’s bills until sometime in June. Lawmakers must either raise the debt limit or come to an agreement on a short-term extension of the limit.
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