Debt ceiling talks teetering on the brink, lawmakers leave town over the weekend without a deal

WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Thursday pushed debt ceiling negotiations to the brink and demonstrated the dangerous political bravery of leaving town over the holiday weekend, days before the U.S. faced an unprecedented debt default that wrecked the global economy. Indicated.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy told the Capitol that “every second counts” in talks with President Joe Biden’s team trying to finalize a budget deal. Republicans are demanding spending cuts opposed by Democrats in return for raising the legal debt ceiling.

“We’ve been at the White House all day,” McCarthy (R., Calif.) told reporters as he left the Capitol at night and was soon followed by chief negotiators. “We are working hard to make that happen.”

“This is competing with the American version,” Mr. Biden said in a statement at the White House. But they were optimistic that the gap between positions would be closed.

The White House said talks with Republicans, including Thursday’s videoconference, had been productive, but said serious disagreements remained as the president pursued his priorities.

“The only way forward is with a bipartisan consensus,” Biden said. “And we believe we will reach an agreement that will allow us to move forward and protect the hardworking Americans of this country.”

As the deadline approaches, the Republican chairman — who heads a party aligned with Donald Trump, whose far-right wing pushed him to power, and met with former President Trump this week — is now looking at potential crises. It is clear that

Just two days from June 1 until Tuesday, just two days after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. could begin to run out of funds needed to pay its bills and face federal debt default, lawmakers will A provisional return to work is expected. Mr. Biden is also absent, leaving Friday for a presidential recuperation at Camp David, Maryland, and Sunday for his home in Wilmington, Delaware. The Senate is in adjournment and will remain in recess until after Memorial Day.

Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings put the U.S.’s AAA rating on “rating watch negative” and warned of a possible downgrade.

Democrats lined up on the House floor after work hours to accuse “extreme” Republicans of potentially dangerous debt defaults. “Republicans chose to get out of town before sundown,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who lives in New York.

Weeks of negotiations between Republicans and the White House failed to produce a deal. This is partly because the Biden administration has resisted negotiations with McCarthy over the debt ceiling, arguing that the country’s full trust and credit should not be used as leverage to win over other parties. is. Priority.

McCarthy supports the drastic spending cuts Republicans are demanding in exchange for a vote to raise the nation’s borrowing cap. The White House has proposed freezing next year’s spending in 2024 at current levels and capping spending in 2025, but Republican leaders say that’s not enough.

One idea is to set these top-line budget figures and add a “snapback” clause that would force cuts if Congress fails to meet the new targets during the annual spending process.

“We have to spend less than we did last year. That’s the starting point,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy is under pressure from the right wing of the House not to bow to any deal, even after the June 1 deadline.

Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.), a member of the Freedom Caucus, said, “Don’t get on the exit ramp five stops short of the exit.” “Let’s hold the line.”

Re-running former president Trump has encouraged Republicans to “default” if they don’t get the deal they want from the White House.

McCarthy said Trump told him to “make sure you get a good deal.”

Failure to raise the country’s debt ceiling, currently at $31 trillion, to pay the bills the US already owes risks a potentially chaotic federal default. Anxious retirees and social services groups are already among those with default contingency plans.

Even if negotiators reach a deal within days, McCarthy has promised lawmakers they will follow the rule of submitting any bill 72 hours before a vote, now Tuesday or Wednesday. likely to become The Democratic-led Senate has vowed to act quickly to get the package to Mr. Biden’s desk just before the deadline next Thursday.

It’s not uncommon for Congress to push the debt ceiling to the limit, but in a volatile political environment there is little room for error. It will take both Democrats and Republicans to pass the final bill in a divided Congress.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Rep. Garrett Graves of Louisiana, a top Republican negotiator, while leading a tour of the Capitol for players and supporters of the winning Louisiana State women’s basketball team. There is,” he said.

The outlines of a deal have been within reach in recent days, but Republicans are frustrated by their demands for more from the White House team.

Republicans may offer to relax their demands for increased defense spending, instead keeping them at levels proposed by the Biden administration, according to an unnamed person familiar with the talks.

If Republicans instead agreed to allow the White House to transfer funds to other domestic accounts, they could achieve their goal of curtailing enhanced funding to the Internal Revenue Service, the person said. It is said that there is

The teams are also eyeing Senator John Hickenlooper’s (D-Colorado) proposal to speed up the development of power grids between regions, according to people familiar with the draft.

The White House has long argued that the deficit could be reduced by ending tax cuts for wealthy households and some businesses, but McCarthy told the president at a meeting in February that tax hikes would raise revenues controversially. He said he was told he was ineligible.

Biden has so far denied the possibility of invoking the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling on his own, but all Democrats in the House of Representatives will be involved in a congressional “immunity” process that forces them to vote on the debt ceiling. announced that they had all signed. But it takes five Republicans to break with the party and tilt the majority to move forward with the plan.

Other issues remain open. Republicans also want to tighten government aid labor requirements for recipients of food stamps, cash aid, and Medicaid health care programs that Democrats say are botched. Another person familiar with the talks said the issue was still “in-depth” by both sides and was being discussed on condition of anonymity.

Now that the pandemic emergency is officially lifted, they are almost certain to recoup some $30 billion in unused COVID-19 funds.

The White House countered by proposing to keep defense and non-defense spending flat next year, which would save $90 billion in budget year 2024 and $1 trillion over 10 years. Become. Debt ceiling talks teetering on the brink, lawmakers leave town over the weekend without a deal

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