Biden, McCarthy sit side-by-side at prayer breakfast after debt ceiling talks
Praying for bipartisanship?
President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sat side-by-side at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington Thursday — less than 24 hours after the first of their high-stakes debt ceiling showdown talks.
The pair were spotted engaging with each other as they took their seats for the annual gathering at the packed US Capitol Visitor Center.
“In our politics and in our lives, we too often see each other as opponents and not competitors. We see each other as enemies, not neighbors,” Biden, 80, said in his remarks.
“And as tough as these times have been, if we look closer, we see the strength, the determination that has long defined America.”
Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has addressed the annual event, which draws members of Congress, government officials and others — and is designed to bring people together across partisan lines.
It is the first time the event was held since its leadership and structure was overhauled.
For decades, the National Prayer Breakfast was run by the International Foundation — a Christian organization that has been scrutinized over the years.
The event is now being overseen by the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, a new group led by former members of Congress.
The message of unity came after Biden and McCarthy met at the White House on Wednesday to hold initial talks over extending the country’s debt ceiling to stave off a looming default this summer.
“The president and I had a good first meeting,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters on the West Wing driveway shortly after. “We agreed to continue the conversation.”
Biden, too, echoed that message, telling reporters Thursday: “We had a good meeting yesterday” adding that he and McCarthy would work to “treat each other with respect.”
In the lead-up to the meeting, Biden had said he would refuse to negotiate the debit ceiling and called on McCarthy and Republicans to show their cards on how they plan to reduce spending.
McCarthy has asserted that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are off the table and wants to reach a budget-cap agreement to reduce federal spending to 2022 levels.