WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden called the top congressional leaders on Monday for a May 9 meeting at the White House to avoid the debt ceiling defaulting, according to a White House official familiar with the matter.
The news comes just hours after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a letter that the U.S. could default on its debt ceiling by June 1 — earlier than expected — if Congress doesn’t act.
“This estimate is based on currently available data, as federal receipts and outlays are inherently variable, and the actual date that Treasury exhausts extraordinary measures could be a number of weeks later than these estimates,” she wrote.
Yellen also said the deadline could slide to “a number of weeks later.”
Republicans have been insistent on attaching spending cuts to a debt ceiling increase while Democrats have said they would not negotiate over whether to pay the country’s bills or default.
The White House says Biden will “stress” to congressional leaders that they “must take action to avoid default without conditions”. Democrats have been pushing for what they call a “clean” debt limit increase without policy conditions while Republicans are demanding spending cuts in the separate government funding process.
“That is the appropriate place to debate and discuss our nation’s fiscal picture — not in a hostage situation in which extreme MAGA Republicans try to impose their radical agenda on America,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement Monday evening.
“We do not have the luxury of waiting until June 1 to come together, pass a clean bill to avoid a default, and prevent catastrophic consequences for our economy and millions of American families. Republicans cannot allow right-wing extremism to hold our nation, hostage,” they wrote.
Biden also called top congressional Republicans, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for a meeting. Sources told FWRD Axis News that both men agreed to meet with the President at the White House on May 9.