Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will bring the director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Phillip Swagel, in for a full House briefing next Wednesday to discuss its recently released annual budget outlook.
The move to have Swagel brief members comes as negotiations between McCarthy and President Biden over Republican demands for spending reductions as a condition of raising the debt ceiling are off to a slow start.
McCarthy said he wants to hold the briefing in the House auditorium, a space that can fit the whole House and has been used for high-profile classified briefings in the past.
“I think that that is at that level to crisis level,” McCarthy said Wednesday. “I’m bringing the CBO not to be partisan, because he’s not, and give all of Congress exact same numbers.”
“In the next 10 years, we’ll pay $10 trillion just on interest,” McCarthy said. “If you look at how much interest we have paid since 1940 ‘till today – $9 trillion.”
“Think about all this is going into how bad we currently are fiscally, and the increase that he has added to the debt,” McCarthy added in an apparent reference to Biden.
The briefing comes just before Biden is expected to deliver the White House’s annual budget to Congress.
In its annual budget outlook last month, the CBO projected that interest payments on the national debt would indeed reach about $10 trillion over the next decade. It also found that combined spending on Social Security and Medicare would almost double by 2033, approaching $4 trillion and accounting for 10 percent of U.S. economic output.
McCarthy and Biden have had one in-person meeting as various projections say that Congress will have to act to raise the debt limit by sometime this summer in order to avoid default and grave economic consequences.
The Speaker told reporters on Tuesday that he expected to have another meeting with Biden after the president releases his budget plan.
House Budget Committee Chairman Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) said that he hopes that House Republicans can release their own budget within the next 30 days, and plans to meet a mid-April deadline for the budget.
Arrington told The Hill that it is important for the CBO director to “come and sort of level-set for everybody where we are in terms of our deficit spending.”
“Republicans have their view of the role of government and the size of government, and we certainly believe it’s a spending problem at its core – that we’re so deep in the debt hole we need to at a minimum, and from the outset, agree about the numbers and agree on the mathematic reality that we cannot sustain the trajectory we’re on,” Arrington said. “We must intervene, or we’re going to have a debt-related crisis that will cause irreparable harm to our country and jeopardize our children’s future in the country.”