Biden to call McCarthy from Japan on debt crisis
US President Joe Biden is seeking a direct conversation with Republican House of Representatives speaker Kevin McCarthy as the country's debt ceiling crisis nears a critical point.
Earlier the Biden administration and congressional Republicans traded barbs over raising the federal $US31.4 trillion debt ceiling, with both sides casting the other's proposals as too extreme.
Officials did not meet on Saturday, after two meetings ended on Friday with no progress cited by either side and negotiators saying they were not sure when fresh talks would take place.
There's less than a fortnight before June 1, when the US Treasury Department has warned the federal government could be unable to pay all its debts. That would trigger a default that could cause chaos in financial markets and spike interest rates.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre noted in a statement that Biden and McCarthy had agreed any budget agreement would need to be bipartisan and accused Republicans of offering proposals too far to the right to pass Congress.
Biden told his team to schedule a call on the debt limit with McCarthy later on Sunday, according to a White House official.
Biden sought the meeting after being briefed by his team in Japan, where he is participating in the Group of Seven meetings.
Late Saturday afternoon, McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol that he did not think talks could move forward until Biden was back in the country from in Japan. He accused Democrats of taking a position that was too extreme toward the left.
"Unfortunately, the White House moved backwards," McCarthy said, adding that the "socialist wing" of the Democratic Party appeared to be in control.
McCarthy's Republican-led House last month passed legislation that would cut a wide swathe of government spending by 8 per cent next year. Democrats say that would force average cuts of at least 22 per cent on programs like education and law enforcement, a figure top Republicans have not disputed.
Republicans hold a slim majority of seats in the House and Biden's fellow Democrats have narrow control of the Senate, so no deal can pass without bipartisan support.
A source familiar with the negotiations said Republicans had proposed an increase in defence spending, while cutting overall spending. The source also said House Republicans want to extend tax cuts passed under former President Donald Trump, which would add $3.5 trillion to the federal debt.
The source said the Biden administration had proposed keeping non-defence discretionary spending flat for the next year, which would cut spending when adjustments are made for inflation.
US Representative Patrick McHenry, a Republican negotiator, had said Republicans leaders were "going to huddle as a team and assess" where things stood. He did not comment on whether there would be talks on Sunday.
Republicans are pushing for sharp spending cuts in many domestic programs in exchange for the increase in the government's self-imposed borrowing limit, which is needed regularly to cover costs of spending and tax cuts previously approved by lawmakers.
Congressional Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling three times, with no budget cut pre-conditions, when Republican President Donald Trump was in the White House.