WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Thursday he would bring “soft food” for President Biden to eat during debt ceiling negotiations in a dig at the oldest-ever president’s age.
“We have asked to sit down with the president for months. He is making the decision that he wants to put the economy in jeopardy,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said during a Capitol press conference.
“I don’t know what more I can do,” he added. “I would bring the lunch to the White House. I would make it soft food if that’s what he wants. It doesn’t matter.”
Biden and McCarthy met at the White House on Feb. 1, but the president on Tuesday shot down the GOP speaker’s request for another talk, writing that “seeing your full set of proposals would be useful before we meet.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to McCarthy’s jab Thursday afternoon, telling reporters: “I think the president is able to pick out his own Starbucks … what we really need from Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans is to see their budget.”
The Congressional Budget Office projects that the federal government will run out of its ability to borrow money between July and September without a compromise.
The White House on March 9 introduced a budget with a variety of proposed tax hikes and some spending increases that can not pass the Republican-held House, with Biden describing the set of policies as an opening offer in negotiations.
Although House Republicans have not laid out a granular counter-proposal, McCarthy on Tuesday asked Biden to meet, writing in a letter to the White House that conservatives have four major priorities in any spending deal.
Those include lowering non-defense spending “to pre-inflationary levels,” “reclaiming unspent COVID funds,” “strengthening work requirements for those without dependents who can work” and supporting policies that “grow our economy and keep Americans safe, including measures to lower energy costs … and secure our border from the flow of deadly fentanyl.”
But the White House has insisted on more details before another presidential meeting.
“The president put out his budget on March 9 — three weeks,” Jean-Pierre said Thursday. “And we have seen nothing from the House Republicans — nothing.”
Although McCarthy and Biden clashed this week, they traded greetings and compliments at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration March 17 — even as House Republicans pursued investigation of Biden’s administration and his role in his family’s international business dealings.
“I agree with the speaker, there’s no reason why we can’t find common ground,” Biden told McCarthy at the time “There’s no reason why we can’t hope to change this direction of the extremes in both parties are pushing.”
“I think it’s important. I think it’s really important,” Biden added. “And that’s the power of friendship. I think it’s the power of — it’s the strength of our partnership, if we work at it, and simply put, I think it’s the Irish of it.”