By Kristin Wilson and Haley Talbot, CNN
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Monday in Jerusalem that he still has not heard from President Joe Biden about debt ceiling talks, following the House passing a GOP-led bill in an effort to pressure the White House to the negotiating table.
“The president still hasn’t talked to me. I’m a little bit like Netanyahu,” he said, referring to Biden not having invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a visit since he came back into power in December.
“I’m concerned about the debt ceiling. I have been from the moment I became speaker. That’s why on February 1, I went to see the president and said we should sit down and solve this problem,” he told CNN’s Hadas Gold.
“The debt is a big challenge for America. We’re going to have to come together to solve it. We’ve been through this before. The only way you solve problems is you negotiate, and I’m looking forward to the president changing his mind and negotiating with us. If that’s not the case, I wanted to make sure that the debt ceiling did get raised and so we raised it before we came here.”
The White House has said the debt limit should be raised without any conditions, while Republicans are insisting any increase in the limit must be paired with spending cuts.
McCarthy received some push back from a fellow House member when former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took to the microphone to remind McCarthy what he said a few weeks ago in a speech on Wall street.
“I think it’s important to say, the Speaker spoke on Wall Street. He said that defaulting on our debt is not an option. I think we have universal, almost universal, agreement on that proposition. I believe America will not default on its debt,” Hoyer said, prompting a terse response from the speaker.
“We will not pass the debt ceiling that just raises it without doing something about our debt,” McCarthy responded.
But McCarthy also demurred on whether he would ask Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, saying that he’s invited Israel’s President Isaac Herzog “hopefully this summer.”
“Look, I had a great meeting with the prime minister … I know we’ve had a lot of different leaders coming to America. I expect the White House to invite the prime minister over for a meeting especially with the 75th anniversary (of the founding of the State of Israel). I know that President Herzog will be coming soon for a joint session. I know the Prime Minister has already done three joint sessions. I think the President and this one will be the next joint session from Israel first.”
McCarthy also asserted strong support for Ukraine when asked by a Russian reporter if the US posture of sending supplies and aid to Ukraine will change, and implying the speaker didn’t support Ukraine.
“Did he say I don’t support aid to Ukraine? No. I voted for aid for Ukraine. I support aid for Ukraine. I do not support what your country has done you do to Ukraine. They do not support your killing of the children either. And I think for one standpoint, you should pull out, and I don’t think it’s right. And we will continue to support, because the rest of the world sees it just as it is,” he said.
In a speech before the Knesset prior to holding a press conference, McCarthy vowed strong support for Israel, and that “As long as I’m speaker, America will continue to support fully funding to security assistance in Israel.” McCarthy also cautioned the country to be wary of Chinese investment in Israel.
“While the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) may disguise itself as promoters of innovation, and true, they act like seeds. We must not allow them to steal our technology. In the United States, we’re working to protect innovation and the prosperity with which it removes focus,” he said. “I’m glad that Israel has put into place the process to review foreign investment. I strongly encourage Israel to further strengthen its oversight of foreign investment, particularly Chinese investment.”
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