Biden hosts first White House talks with Republican leaders

US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the April jobs report from the East Room of the White House in Washington, US, May 7, 2021. REUTERS
President Joe Biden held his first White House meeting with Republican leaders from Congress on Wednesday in search of common ground on his proposals to spend trillions of dollars on US infrastructure, education and childcare.

Biden, a Democrat and former longtime US senator from Delaware, has sought to reduce partisan tension in Washington and pledged to work with both parties to advance his policy goals, which face stiff opposition from Republicans.

"The bottom line here is we're going to see whether we can reach some consensus," on a compromise with regard to infrastructure, Biden said.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and House of Representatives Republican leader Kevin McCarthy sat down for talks in the Oval Office with Biden and senior Democrats in Congress.

It was the first time that Biden hosted the two highest-ranking Republicans in Congress at the White House. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined their Republican counterparts in the meeting. Congressional Democrats are giving Biden plenty of room to try to broker a deal, but they are preparing for the possibility of moving a massive spending bill along strictly party lines if Republicans do not join in negotiations, according to multiple interviews with congressional and White House sources.

Just before the White House talks, McCarthy presided over the ousting of Representative Liz Cheney from the House Republican leadership team because of her refusal to back former President Donald Trump's false claim that he won the 2020 election, not Biden.

McCarthy, who has sought to placate Trump, cast her dismissal as necessary to unify Republicans and reclaim control of the House in 2022.