Adam S. Olsen- Washington, D.C.
February 1, 2023

President Joe Biden will meet with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) at the White House this afternoon for a discussion that carries high stakes: the need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit in order to avoid a financial crisis.  The meeting will be the first between the two leaders since Republicans assumed control of the House and conveyed the speaker title on Mr. McCarthy after an embarrassing four day protracted fight.  They will have to come up with a deal to avoid the country defaulting on its debt as some Republicans threaten to not be on board without the promise of spending cuts and the White House asserting it would take no “hostages” or negotiate terms of the matter. But Wednesday’s meeting will serve as a starting point to Biden and McCarthy’s one-on-one working relationship since the GOP took over the House and may signal whether the two can form any sort of partnership for the next two years. Yesterday, the White House said in a memo that it would press McCarthy for a firm commitment to avoid a default — a notion the California Republican told CBS on Sunday he was dedicated to. Biden also said he would urge Republicans to release a budget proposal on March 9th, the same day the president plans to release his fiscal 2024 plan.

For today, the Senate convened at 10:00 A.M. and following Leader remarks the Senate was in a period of morning business.  The Senate recessed from 12:30 P.M. to 2:15 P.M. to allow for the weekly Democratic caucus meeting.  Roll call votes are potentially expected during Wednesday’s session as the Senate remains in limbo until Republican Senators organize their committees.

The House met at 10:00 A.M. for morning hour and at noon for legislative business.  The House is expected to consider H.R. 139 – SHOW UP Act of 2023 which requires each executive agency to reinstate the telework policies that were in place on December 31, 2019. Agencies may not implement expanded telework policies unless the Office of Personnel Management certifies that such policies will have a positive effect on the agency’s mission and operational costs.  The House is also expected to consider H.J. Res. 7 – Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on March 13, 2020 which would end the COVID-19 national emergency declared on that day.

Of note, the Federal Reserve just raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point and gave little indication that it is nearing the end of this hiking cycle.  Aligning with market expectations, the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee boosted the federal funds rate by 0.25 percentage point. That takes it to a target range of 4.5%-4.75%, the highest since October, 2007.  The move marked the eighth increase in a process that began in March 2022. By itself, the funds rate sets what banks charge each other for overnight borrowing, but it also spills through to many consumer debt products.

Adam S. Olsen, Washington, D.C.