As clock ticks down on debt default, GOP negotiators ‘press pause’

WASHINGTON — Republican negotiators tasked with trying to strike a deal with the White House to avert a potentially catastrophic debt default later in the month said Friday they had halted talks with the Biden administration because the latter “can’t be productive”.

“We decided to press pause because it’s just not productive,” Rep said. Garret Graves, R-La, who has been hired by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to lead negotiations with White House staffers.

He declined to comment on the details of the negotiations but said the government was “irrational” as the clock ticks toward the June 1 deadline set by the Treasury Department for action or a catastrophic default on the US debt to risk.

“Until people are willing to have sensible conversations about how to actually move forward and do the right thing, we’re not going to sit here and talk to ourselves,” Graves said, claiming the House of Representatives is done with passing legislation Part done bill raising the debt ceiling.

One reason is that Republicans in the House of Representatives want to impose large spending cuts, which President Joe Biden rejects and fails to get into the Democratic-controlled Senate.

“Look, we can’t spend more money next year,” McCarthy, R-California, said Friday, adopting a pessimistic tone about the state of the negotiations. “We have to spend less than last year. It’s pretty easy.”

He said there hadn’t been enough “movement” from the White House, adding that he spoke to Graves on Friday but not the president.

A White House spokesman said Friday that “a responsible, bipartisan budget agreement remains possible when both sides negotiate in good faith and recognize that neither side will get everything it wants.”

“There are real differences between the parties on budgetary issues and talks will be difficult,” the spokesman added. “The President’s team is working hard to come up with a sensible bipartisan solution that can pass the House and Senate.”

A source familiar with the party’s stance said Democrats would be reluctant to accept a spending cap lower than current levels. The party may prefer to keep current levels, even if it means a new spending deal fails and the government runs through an ongoing solution on autopilot.

According to a Democrat source familiar with the negotiations, there are moves to pass a near-term spending decision concurrent with a debt ceiling hike through early 2025. That would give McCarthy what he’s always wanted: to move these two issues forward in lockstep — while the White House and Democrats, who originally called for a “clean” debt hike, can save face by claiming that it will the budget negotiations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., said earlier this week, “Avoiding a default should not be conditional on passing the far-right Republican party agenda.”

Congress must act in the coming weeks or the US could breach the debt ceiling as early as June 1, the Treasury Department has warned.

When asked if talks would resume later on Friday or Saturday, Graves said, “I don’t know.”

A source familiar with the negotiations said conservative hardliners were pleased with the pause.

“The fact that they’re doing this shows they’re still willing to give up,” the source said, adding there were concerns McCarthy’s team wasn’t focused on their core issue.

“It’s the cuts that matter,” the source said.

Meanwhile, a GOP aide said Conservatives were “secretly seething” about how the talks went and that “Republicans are giving away their leverage.”

On Thursday, the Conservative Freedom Caucus issued a statement saying the debt bill passed by the House of Representatives represents that formal position the bloc of around 30 far-right Republicans in the House of Representatives.

Former President Donald Trump, who has urged Republicans to allow default if their demands are not met, repeated the call on his social media website on Friday.

“Republicans shouldn’t make a debt ceiling deal unless they get everything they want (including the ‘sink’),” Trump, the leading Republican presidential nominee, wrote on Truth Social. “That’s how the Democrats have always treated us. Don’t get off!!!”

Alexandra Bacallao, Monica Alba, Ali Vitali, Jillian Frankel, Kristen Welker And Dareh Gregorian contributed.

Alley Einstein

Alley Einstein is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Alley Einstein joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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