Negotiations on the debt ceiling collapse before the weekend
WASHINGTON – Negotiations on raising the debt ceiling came to an abrupt halt on Friday when Republican negotiators walked out of a closed meeting with White House officials, leaving both sides in a deadlock ahead of a critical weekend.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., who is leading the negotiations for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, told reporters it was time to “put the negotiations on pause” “because they just aren’t productive.” . Graves said the White House position had become “unreasonable.”
“We need to move the White House and we have no movement yet,” McCarthy said. “So, yes, we have to stop.”
White House and Republican negotiators met again later Friday night and met for about an hour. It was unclear if they were making any progress.
A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the impasse. “There are real differences between the parties on budgetary issues and talks will be difficult. The President’s team is working hard to come up with a sensible bipartisan solution that can pass the House and Senate,” the official said.
According to a source familiar with the negotiations, the White House believes several of the key demands from Republicans, who are seeking significant spending cuts, would not get the support needed from Congressional Democrats to pass them.
A major sticking point remains the source’s expanded labor requirements for federal benefits like food stamps, which Republicans want but President Joe Biden and Democrats oppose. Several Democratic lawmakers have called stricter work requirements for welfare workers unrealistic.
Biden is pushing for a deal with Republicans to avert a government default that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned could happen as early as June 1 unless the debt ceiling is raised to keep the US borrowing can. Biden, who is attending a G-7 summit in Japan, will return to Washington on Sunday.
McCarthy said an agreement must be reached before this weekend to give the House and Senate time to take action on legislation before the June 1 deadline.
Other areas discussed in the negotiations include Republican proposals to approve reforms to oil and gas projects, possible caps on future discretionary spending, and rescinding unspent COVID-19 bailout funds.
Rep. Patrick McHenry, RN.C., another Republican negotiator, said: “There is a ‘serious rift’ between the sides. “We are in a difficult position.”
The Republican-backed bill raising the debt ceiling in exchange for $4.8 trillion in cuts passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives last month but is dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate House of Representatives – and the refusal of Republican lawmakers to adopt the debt limit without spending cuts – the White House to begin considering Republican proposals.
The White House said Biden received an update on the talks Friday morning from his negotiators Steve Ricchetti, adviser to the president, and Shalanda Young, director of the Office of Management and Budget while in Japan.
Biden urged his team to “continue to push for a bipartisan agreement and made clear the need to protect critical programs for hardworking Americans and the economic progress of the past two years,” the White House said.
Biden told reporters earlier this month that the standoff “is becoming a problem in other countries.” Japan and the UK, two G-7 allies, are among the foreign countries with the most US debt.
French Ambassador to the US Laurent Bili said in an interview with USA TODAY on Friday that the potential default is a source of “stress” for other nations as it has a direct impact on markets and global interest rates. “It’s a concern for the whole world,” Bili said.
Contributors: Francesca Chambers, Associated Press and USA TODAY White House Correspondent
Reach out to Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.