Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday that it would be “very important” to meet with President Biden amid discussions over averting a government shutdown and addressing the situation at the southern border.
“I think it would be very important to have a meeting with the president,” McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol.
The comment came after a reporter asked the Speaker why he would not consider cutting a deal with Democrats to keep the government open past the end of the month, as a number of hardline conservatives express opposition to proposed short-term funding stopgaps.
“Why don’t we just cut a deal with the president?” McCarthy responded.
The Speaker has sought to focus the fight over government funding on the situation at the southern border. House GOP leaders unveiled a short-term continuing resolution last week that includes a bulk of the conference’s marquee border bill, H.R. 2. House Republicans passed the bill in May, but it has not been taken up in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
McCarthy argued that Biden could solve the situation at the border by reversing policies he has enacted.
“Listen, the president, all he has to do, it’s only actions that he has to take. He can do it like that,” McCarthy said. “He changed all the policies on the border. He can change those, we can keep government open and finish out the work that we have done.”
Pressed later in the day about when he would like to meet with the president, McCarthy said, “I would’ve wanted to meet with him long before. I’ve been trying on many different issues.”
The Speaker said Tuesday that “it’s been a little while” since he has spoken with Biden, but noted that he has talked with the president’s staff.
Asked Monday if he has spoken to McCarthy, Biden shook his head.
“I haven’t,” he said.
He shook his head again when asked if he will speak to the Speaker.
The Hill reached out to the White House for comment.
McCarthy’s push to meet with Biden comes as Congress is racing the clock to fund the government by Sept. 30 or risk a shutdown. Leaders in both parties and chambers have recognized that a continuing resolution will be needed to keep the lights on in Washington, but there currently is not a clear path to a stopgap bill.
McCarthy last week tried to coalesce his conference around a GOP-only continuing resolution, which was seen as an opening bid in negotiations with Democrats. But a number of Republicans lined up against the initial legislation, forcing leaders to pull a procedural vote on the measure. Leadership then unveiled a second proposal, which has not yet received a vote in the House.
McCarthy said Tuesday that he plans to bring a GOP-crafted continuing resolution to the floor this week.
Biden and McCarthy had a series of meetings in June when the two were negotiating a deal to raise the debt limit and avoid an economic default. The agreement they ultimately arrived at included caps for fiscal 2024 spending, a provision that was meant to make funding the government a smooth process.
But House GOP leaders — amid pressure from the right flank to further cut spending — marked up appropriations bills at levels lower than those laid out in the debt limit deal.
Alex Gangitano contributed.