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Rhetoric Over US Debt Limit Boils Over as Republicans, Democrats Joust

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Partisan sniping over raising the US borrowing authority ratcheted up on Friday when House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy accused President Joe Biden of ignoring the issue, even as Republicans have failed to detail budget cuts they want before allowing a debt limit increase.

At a press conference in the US Capitol, the Republican speaker attacked the Democratic president for not holding negotiating sessions with him since an initial meeting early last month.

“Unfortunately the president doesn’t think it’s important,” McCarthy told reporters when asked about how talks on the debt ceiling were going.

Biden and leading Democrats in Congress have urged McCarthy to unveil Republicans’ plans for cutting spending, saying that further meetings before that happens would be fruitless.

At a press conference on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Democrats welcome budget talks anytime. But McCarthy “has got to show us his plan. To just sit down and not have a plan, what’s the point? What are you going to say, ‘Thanks for the coffee?'”

White House aides were not immediately available for comment on McCarthy’s remarks.

But it did issue a statement accusing the hard-right House Freedom Caucus of proposing “devastating cuts” to the federal budget that it said would “weaken national security” while saddling “working- and middle-class families” with higher costs.

His plan would reset nondefense spending to pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels and eliminate multiple Biden programs.

The House Budget Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, has not yet produced a fiscal 2024 budget blueprint that will help shape the debate over federal spending beginning in October and the need to raise the debt limit.

Meanwhile, Republicans want Democrats to signal support for significant spending cuts before they will provide the votes needed in Congress for an increase in the Treasury Department’s borrowing authority.

The government faces a historic default on its debts without legislation being enacted to raise the $31.4 trillion debt limit.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the Treasury Department will exhaust “extraordinary measures,” which are keeping debt payments on schedule, sometime in the July-September time frame.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrea Ricci)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters,

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