(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he’s hopeful he can strike a deal on raising the debt limit with President Joe Biden well before the deadline when the nation would no longer be able to pay its bills.

The California Republican emerged from a private meeting with Biden on Wednesday and sought to tamp down concerns that a stalemate could push the government to the edge of a default. He said the the discussion went better than he expected. 

“I think, at the end of the day, we can find common ground,” McCarthy said as he left the White House.

But he also reiterated GOP demands for spending cuts and said he was aiming for a two-year agreement. “We don’t have a revenue problem we have a spending problem,” he said. He added that an increase in the debt limit without an agreement on spending is “not going to happen.”

The White House insisted that the ceiling be raised without being contingent on spending cuts. 

It characterized Biden’s talk with McCarthy as “a frank and straightforward dialogue” and said both leaders agreed to continue the conversation. 

However, it emphasized Biden’s stance that the limit should be raised without conditions but said the president “welcomes” a separate discussion on reducing the deficit and controlling the national debt.

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.