He stressed that the president had refused to meet him for 97 days, contending that Mr. Biden was acting irresponsibly by not agreeing to compromise. “I’m hoping that the next two weeks are different,” Mr. McCarthy said. “I’m hoping this president understands as the leader of this nation that you can’t sit back and hold the country hostage. You can’t be so extreme in your views that you’re not going to negotiate. And to the American public, we’ve been very reasonable.”
Mr. Biden blamed Mr. McCarthy for not passing a bill to raise the limit until late April. The president left open the possibility that he might seek to bypass Congress and pay debts on his own by asserting authority under a provision of the 14th Amendment that says “the validity of the public debt of the United States” authorized by law “shall not be questioned.” He noted that Laurence H. Tribe, the longtime Harvard Law School professor, had changed his mind about whether a president has such power.
But he indicated that solution might not work in the short term. “The problem is it would have to be litigated and in the meantime, without an extension, it would end up in the same place,” he said. He added that he was thinking of testing the prospect some months after resolving the current crisis, to avoid future clashes over the debt ceiling.
Further complicating the schedule: The president is scheduled to fly to Japan next week to attend the leaders’ summit for the Group of 7 industrialized nations, before traveling on to a security summit in Australia. Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Mr. Biden said it was “possible, not likely” that he would have to curtail or skip the trip because the debate over the debt ceiling is “the single most important thing that’s on the agenda.”
The continued impasse could increasingly rattle financial markets in the days and weeks to come, as investors grow more concerned that the federal government will default on its debt and begin to miss payments to government workers, Social Security recipients and others.