McConnell: Solution to US debt limit must come from Biden, McCarthy

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Any agreement to tackle the US debt ceiling and prevent a first-ever Washington default will have to come from President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the Senate’s top Republican said Tuesday .

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has historically played an integral role in debt ceiling negotiations, predicted that no solution formulated by the Democrat-led Senate is likely to win the House’s approval , which the Republicans control by a slim margin.

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“In the current situation, the solution to the debt ceiling — if there is one, or how to deal with it — will have to come from the House,” McConnell told reporters.

House Republicans want to force cuts from Biden in exchange for a deal on the debt ceiling. But the White House has repeatedly rejected budget cut negotiations, arguing that Congress has an obligation to raise the borrowing limit and avoid a default and the possibility of economic chaos.

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“It’s perfectly reasonable for the new speaker and his team to put budget cuts on the table. I wish him the best of luck as he talks to the president. There’s a solution there,” McConnell said.

“I can’t imagine that a debt ceiling provision passed by a 60-vote vote from the Senate could actually pass this particular House,” he added.

Biden and McCarthy have agreed to meet to discuss the debt ceiling and other issues. But no meeting is scheduled.

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McConnell was speaking just days after the US government hit the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit, prompting the Treasury to take extraordinary measures that could stave off bankruptcy until early June. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has called on Congress to take swift action to address the borrowing limit.

(Reporting by David Morgan and Katharine Jackson; editing by Leslie Adler and Deepa Babington)

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