Biden to meet congressional leaders on debt early next week - White House

U.S. President Biden visits SUNY Westchester Community College Valhalla in Valhalla, New York

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden is expected to meet with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other congressional leaders early next week to resume budget negotiations and resolve a looming default on the nation's debt, White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday.

The leaders had canceled a planned meeting on Friday to let staff continue to discuss.

Pierre told reporters that the staff-level talks, which started on Tuesday, have been "productive," though she declined to provide specifics.

"It's been productive. It's been continuing," she said. "They're going to meet today, they're going to meet over the weekend. I think that should kind of tell you that the conversations are going in the right direction."

Aides for Biden and McCarthy have started to discuss ways to limit federal spending, as talks on raising the government's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling to avoid a catastrophic default creep forward, Reuters reported.

The Treasury Department says it could run out of money by June 1 unless lawmakers lift the nation's debt ceiling and Biden is expected to leave next week for the G7 summit. Biden initially said he could cancel the trip if needed, but Jean-Pierre said on Friday he plans on going.

Biden's fiscal 2024 budget request relies on tax increases to reduce deficits while proposing to increase discretionary spending by 5 percent next year. That represents a more than $200 billion difference with House Republicans, however, who want to cut agency budgets on average by 8 percent while increasing defense and veterans spending — meaning other programs would face steeper cuts.

(Reporting By Jeff Mason and Jarrett Renshaw; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Doina Chiacu)