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- Kevin McCarthy agreed not to cut Social Security and Medicare in debt ceiling negotiations, Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters.
- Previously, cuts to those programs were on the table as the GOP negotiated terms to raise the debt limit.
- Manchin, and even former President Trump, urged the GOP to leave those programs alone.
On Wednesday, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy has agreed to leave cuts to Medicare and Social Security off the table in debt ceiling negotiations.
This came after the two lawmakers met earlier today on raising the debt limit — an issue Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been clashing over recently as they negotiate how to keep the US on top of paying its bills.
A source familiar said that the meeting between Manchin and McCarthy was good, albeit with no commitments; Manchin encouraged McCarthy to negotiate and try a find path forward that would avoid harming Americans.
The US officially reached the debt limit last week, and President Joe Biden’s administration has urged House Republicans to work in a bipartisan way to keep the country from defaulting on its obligations and potentially triggering a global financial crisis and recession. But Republicans have expressed their intent to use raising the debt limit as a bargaining chip to achieve their own priorities, and previous reports indicated they were considering cutting Medicare and Social Security benefits.
However, Manchin — who has been a centrist holdout on some previous Democratic legislation — said on Sunday that he did not think Republicans should consider Medicare and Social Security in these negotiations.
“No cuts to anybody that’s receiving their benefits, no adjustments to that. They’ve earned it. They paid into it. Take that off the table,” he said. “But everyone’s using that as a leverage.”
Even former President Donald Trump joined the dialogue, urging Republicans in a video message last week against cutting those programs.
“Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from Medicare or Social Security,” Trump said in the video. “Cut waste, fraud and abuse everywhere that we can find it and there is plenty, there’s plenty of it,” he continued. “But do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security, don’t destroy it.”
McCarthy has not yet publicly commented on his discussion with Manchin, but he previously said that the reports of him considering cuts to those programs are not true.
It’s still unclear what other types of cuts Republicans are considering in these negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Monday that the GOP should reveal their intentions to the public, saying that “Republicans are talking about draconian cuts, they have an obligation to show Americans what those cuts are and let the public react. … Does that mean cuts to Social Security or Medicare or child care or Pell Grants?”
Biden is expected to meet with McCarthy regarding these negotiations, but an exact date remains unclear. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Republicans that the government has begun using “extraordinary measures” to keep the country afloat, but those measures are expected to run out at some point this summer — meaning the GOP needs to come to an agreement by then to avoid a catastrophic default.