Debt ceiling negotiations between White House, Republicans hit a snag heading into weekend

WASHINGTON − Negotiations on raising the debt ceiling came to an abrupt halt Friday as Republican negotiators walked out of a closed-door meeting with White House officials, leaving the two sides at a stalemate heading into a critical weekend.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., who is leading negotiations for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, told reporters it’s time to “press pause” on negotiations “because it’s just not productive.” He said negotiations became “just unreasonable” and that it was unclear when talks would resume.

Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., another Republican negotiator said, “There is a “serious gap” between the sides. “We’re in a tough spot.”

A White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “There are real differences between the parties on budget issues and talks will be difficult. The president’s team is working hard towards a reasonable bipartisan solution that can pass the House and the Senate.”

White House negotiators have relayed that many of the top demands of Republicans would not get the support needed from Democrats in Congress for passage, according to a source familiar with negotiations.

One major sticking point, according to the source, remains expanded work requirements for federal benefits such as food stamps that Republicans covet but President Joe Biden and Democrats oppose. Several Democratic lawmakers have characterized stricter work requirements for welfare as a nonstarter.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., top mediator in the debt limit talks for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves a meeting room after negotiations came to an abrupt halt, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, May 19, 2023. Graves told reporters it's time to "press pause" and it's "just not productive" to continue at this point.

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., top mediator in the debt limit talks for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., leaves a meeting room after negotiations came to an abrupt halt, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, May 19, 2023. Graves told reporters it’s time to “press pause” and it’s “just not productive” to continue at this point.

Biden is rushing to reach an agreement with Republicans to avert a government default that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned could occur as early as June 1 unless the debt ceiling is raised to allow the U.S. to continue to borrow. Biden, who is attending a G-7 summit in Japan, is set to return to Washington on Sunday.

McCarthy has said a deal needed to be reached before this weekend to leave time for the House and Senate to take action on legislation before the June 1 deadline.

Other areas discussed in negotiations includes Republican proposals for permitting reform for oil and gas projects, possible caps on future discretionary spending and rescinding unspent COVID-19 rescue funds.

Republican-backed legislation with these and other spending cuts passed the GOP-controlled House last month, but is dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Still, the House’s action − and Republican lawmakers’ refusal to take up the debt limit without spending cuts − forced the White House to begin considering Republicans’ proposals.

U.S. President Joe Biden attends a meeting during the G7 Leaders' Summit in Hiroshima, western Japan Friday, May 19, 2023.

U.S. President Joe Biden attends a meeting during the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima, western Japan Friday, May 19, 2023.

Contributing: Associated Press

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Debt-ceiling negotiations hit a wall before weekend

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