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Biden says he, McCarthy had productive talks on debt ceiling

U.S. President Biden marks first anniversary of Uvalde, Texas school shooting during White House event in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden said he has had several productive conversations with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in their standoff over the federal government's debt ceiling, adding that staff negotiators were continuing talks on Thursday afternoon.

Democrat Biden, speaking at a White House event for his new pick to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Republicans are pushing for steep cuts that would increase wait times for Social Security claims and cut teachers, police and border patrol agents.

"I won't agree to that," Biden said. "The only way to move forward is with a bipartisan agreement and I believe will come to an agreement (that) allows us to move forward and protects the hardworking Americans of this country."

Biden said the negotiations with McCarthy are "about the outlines of what the budget will look like, not about default. It's about competing visions for America."

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He added: "Speaker McCarthy and I have a very different view of who should bear the burden of additional efforts to get our fiscal house in order. I don't believe the whole burden should fall on the backs of middle class and working class Americans. My House Republican friends disagree."

(Reporting by Nandita Bose; writing by Susan Heavey and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Caitlin Webber and Grant McCool)