Biden and McCarthy Meet at White House to Discuss Debt Ceiling

On February 4, 2023, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met with President Biden at the White House to discuss the debt ceiling.[0] This meeting came after a series of initial talks on raising the U.S. government borrowing limits, which ended on a positive note as McCarthy said the two found “common ground”.[1]

The U.S. has reached its debt limit of $31.385 trillion earlier this month, with the Treasury Department taking measures to be able to pay the government’s bills until sometime in June.[2] Lawmakers now have to either raise the debt limit or come to an agreement on a short-term extension of the limit.[3]

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.[4] He has stated that Medicare and Social Security slashes are off the table, but all other areas, including defense spending, are being considered.[3]

The White House has said that it will not negotiate with Republicans on spending cuts, and Biden is strongly opposed to eliminating the debt limit altogether.[3] Biden and House Speaker McCarthy held their first in-person meeting at the White House since Republicans assumed the House majority and Biden made clear that preventing default is “not negotiable or conditional.”[5]

McCarthy insists that there will not be a “clean debt ceiling” and spending reforms must be made.[6] The Speaker has been criticized by Democrats for not providing more specifics of what he plans to cut, while Republicans such as Rep. Warren Davidson have said that Biden “has not been willing to compromise on cuts”.[1]

It remains to be seen what agreement, if any, will be reached between the two sides. Nonetheless, the Biden administration's stance on the debt limit ensures that it won't be used as a negotiating tool.

0. “The Only Debt Ceiling Deal Is No Deal at All” The New Republic, 4 Feb. 2023,

1. “Rep. Davidson to Newsmax: Biden Unwilling to Compromise on Cuts” Newsmax, 2 Feb. 2023,

2. “Are Social Security Benefit Cuts Really “Off the Table?” Here's What History Suggests” Nasdaq, 4 Feb. 2023,

3. “McCarthy: Social Security, Medicare cuts ‘off the table’” The Hill, 29 Jan. 2023,

4. “Social Security, Medicare Cuts Sidelined in Debt-Ceiling Talks” The Wall Street Journal, 2 Feb. 2023,

5. “House Republicans float one spending cut in a debt ceiling bill: Unspent Covid money” NBC News, 3 Feb. 2023,

6. “Debt ceiling deal no closer as McCarthy, Biden vow to continue talks” CNBC, 2 Feb. 2023,