Praying for bilateral relations?
President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy sat next to each other at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday — less than 24 hours after their high-stakes debt ceiling showdown talks.
The couple were seen 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, too often we see each other as competitors and not rivals. We see each other as enemies, not neighbors,” Biden, 80, said in his remarks. said
“And as difficult as these times have been, if we look closely, 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. .
This is the first time that the event has been held since the change in its leadership and structure.
For decades, the National Prayer Breakfast was run by the International Foundation – a Christian organization that has come under scrutiny over the years.
The event is now overseen by the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, a new group led by former members of Congress.
The message of unity came as Biden and McCarthy met at the White House on Wednesday for initial talks on extending the nation’s debt ceiling to prevent a escalating default this summer.
“The president and I had a good first meeting,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters on a West Wing driveway shortly afterward. “We agreed to continue the conversation.”
Biden also echoed that message, telling reporters Thursday: “We had a good meeting yesterday,” adding that he and McCarthy “will work to treat each other with respect.”
At the start of the meeting, Biden said he would refuse to negotiate the debt ceiling and demanded McCarthy and Republicans show their cards on how they plan to cut spending.
McCarthy has insisted that cuts to Social Security and Medicare are off the table and that he wants to reach an agreement on a budget cap to reduce federal spending to 2022 levels.
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