Negotiators from the White House and Republican Congress worked around the clock as Memorial Day weekend began, trying to hammer out a deal to raise the country’s debt ceiling and avert a financial crisis, with complaints growing among the far right that President Biden had gained the upper hand in the talks.
Rep. Patrick T. McHenry, R-North Carolina, one of the lead negotiators, told reporters Saturday on Capitol Hill that the two parties are “hours or days” away from reaching an agreement.
“I think we’re all tired,” said Mr. McHenry, who has been involved in the negotiations for 11 days. But that doesn’t mean we’re willing to take on something we think is unacceptable. House Republicans expect us to fight for a good deal.”
After a Friday evening of negotiations that continued into Saturday morning, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy returned to the Capitol from lunch with a box of fast food for the dozens of reporters who had camped out waiting for news.
“I don’t know about today,” McCarthy said when asked if a deal could be reached on Saturday. However, Mr McCarthy said he was “optimistic” about the deal, and that he would brief his members on the entire bill before briefing the press.
For days, top White House officials and Republican lawmakers have been closing in on a deal that would raise the debt limit for two years while imposing strict limits on discretionary spending not related to the military or veterans for the same period.
Mr. Biden began negotiating with Mr. McCarthy this month after weeks of insisting that Congress should raise the debt ceiling without strings attached. Democrats have accused Republicans of holding the economy hostage over their demands for deep spending cuts, while Republicans have raised concerns about the country’s growing federal debt, which stands at $31.4 trillion.
On Saturday, it became more apparent that Mr. McCarthy would need Democrats to support whatever deal he cuts with President Biden to pass the legislation, as lawmakers from the House Freedom Caucus sharply criticized the contours of the emerging deal.
“Absolute surrender is in progress. On the side that holds the cards,” smoker Rep. Dan Bishop, R-North Carolina, is a member of the caucus.
Most lawmakers not directly involved in the negotiations have traveled home to their districts for the week-long Memorial Day holiday, but 35 members of the Freedom Caucus group have sought to pressure McCarthy not to back down on Republican demands to restrict federal spending for 10 years, cancel the extra money to service Internal Revenue, cut clean energy tax credits and recover unspent funds to fight Covid-19.
Critics of the deal’s terms don’t know its details, McCarthy said, and Republican negotiators said they continued to stand firm on the demand for stricter labor requirements for social safety net programs as part of the deal.
“No chance. Rep. Garrett Graves, R-Louisiana and one of the negotiators, told reporters Friday about the possibility of dropping the work order.
But that probably won’t be enough for members of the House Freedom Caucus.
“If business requirements are the focus of a ‘deal’, there shouldn’t be a deal,” Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas and caucus member, wrote on Twitter. “Talk about catching the wrong line.”
Mr Bishop has threatened a legislative “war” against the deal if it amounts to little more than a “clean” increase in the debt ceiling that takes the issue off the table after the 2024 election.
Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen said on Friday that the United States will run out of money to pay its bills by June 5, allowing a little more time than previously estimated while maintaining the urgency of congressional leaders for a deal to increase or suspend the debt limit. Default could lead to a series of potential problems for the US economy.
Democrats sought to ensure that the public would blame Republicans in the event of a state default.
Rep. Catherine M.
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