As President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy designated top emissaries to negotiate an agreement to avert an unprecedented national default, debt-limit negotiations entered an encouraging new phase.
Biden cut short a planned foreign trip to reach a deal before a June 1 deadline.
With a new group of negotiators, the conversation has mainly been limited to what McCarthy and the White House will agree to, enabling legislators to increase the debt ceiling in the coming days.
Even though, in McCarthy’s opinion, the two sides remained far apart for the time being, the speaker claimed following a meeting with Biden and congressional leaders that a compromise was “possible” by the end of the week.
After a roughly hour-long conversation in the Oval Office, Biden appeared optimistic despite postponing the Australia and Papua New Guinea leg of his upcoming international trip, which is set to start on Wednesday. Biden will take part in the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan, before flying back to Washington on Sunday.
Biden remarked, “Work still needs to be done. But I clarified to the speaker and everyone else that we’d frequently talk over the coming days and that the team would keep meeting daily to ensure we don’t default.
The four legislative leaders — McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-New York — and their top aides were present. – have been gathering every day.
But now, Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., a key McCarthy ally who has served as the speaker’s point man on debt and budget issues, will represent Republicans while Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president, Shalanda Young, and Louisa Terrell, director of legislative affairs, will lead negotiations for the Democratic side.
As he entered the Capitol again, McCarthy declared, “Now we have a format, a structure.
The Treasury Department has stated that the U.S. could start defaulting on its debts as of June 1 and risk a financial catastrophe. Negotiators are hurriedly working to beat this deadline.
The rearranged schedule of Biden’s planned trip demonstrated the significance of the discussions,
Officials at the White House tried to lessen the impact of the travel cancellations. Biden will have already met with some of the “Quad” leaders — the goal of the Australia leg of the visit — while in Japan, according to National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, and the president is inviting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for an official state visit in Washington.
But Kirby continued: “If Congress would do its job, lift the debt ceiling like they usually have, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion about the impact of the debt ceiling fight on the trip.
Diverse areas of potential agreement appeared to be emerging as the Democratic president and the Republican speaker boxed around the politics of the issue, with Biden insisting he is not negotiating over the debt ceiling and McCarthy working to extract spending cuts against the backdrop of a potential default.
Recovering over $30 billion in unclaimed COVID-19 funds, setting future budget ceilings, modifying permit laws to facilitate energy development, and increasing labor requirements for recipients of government aid are among the items on the table, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.
However, after Biden indicated over the weekend that he would be open to such adjustments, House Democrats are growing uneasy about imposing additional work requirements for recipients of government aid.
The White House still opposes modifying the standards for people who receive Medicaid and food stamps. Still, it is more amenable to adjustments for people who receive cash support from the Temporary Support for Needy Families program.
House Democrats “resoundingly” rejected adding further job requirements at a morning caucus meeting, according to a Democrat present at the private discussion who was given anonymity to speak about it.
Particularly progressive lawmakers have brought up the subject. The Congressional Progressive Caucus’s chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, stated, “We want to make sure that these negotiations do not include spending cuts, do not include work requirements, things that would harm people, people in rural areas, black, brown, and indigenous folks.”
Late on Monday, the staff of Democratic leader Jeffries tried to ease the worries. Still, a different set of more centrist Democrats communicated to their moderate Republican colleagues that they are willing to negotiate a compromise to raise the debt ceiling, according to officials on Tuesday.
McCarthy has complained that the talks are moving slowly and that he first met with Biden more than 100 days ago, but Biden has countered that it has taken McCarthy this long to provide his proposal.
On Monday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that predictions on the potential “X-date” when the United States may run out of money are unchanged, adding to the pressure on Washington to reach an agreement.