WASHINGTON – High-stakes talks about raising the debt limit came to an abrupt halt Friday on Capitol Hill, after Republican negotiators walked out of the room and blamed the White House for continuing the discussions.
“Until people are willing to have a reasonable conversation about how you can move forward and do the right thing, then we’re not going to sit here and talk to ourselves,” said Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., to reporters.
“We decided to press pause because it’s just not productive,” he added. Graves said he did not know if talks would continue this weekend.
Financial markets fell on the news, which came after a positive week of talks that appeared to signal a deal was close.
One of the toughest points in the talks is the question of spending caps, a key demand of the GOP but a red line for a significant bloc of Democrats.
While the White House is pushing for an increase in the debt limit that will push the next deadline past the 2024 presidential election, Republicans are insisting on a spending limit for next year that will exceed one. freeze the current topline figure, and essentially roll government spending back on. 2022 level.
“Look, we’re not going to spend a lot of money next year,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters Friday after talks broke off. “We have to spend a little more than we spent last year. It’s easy .
The demands on each side may sound simple, but getting their respective caucuses together has become more difficult this week for party leaders — not least — as opposition to any compromise grows. between blocs of conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats.
Any deal to raise or suspend the debt limit must be passed by the GOP-led House and the Democratic-controlled Senate, and top lawmakers in both parties have acknowledged that the final compromise bill may not be acceptable. of hardliners on either side.
“There are real differences between the parties on budget issues and the talks will be difficult,” a White House spokesman told NBC News after the talks broke down. “The President’s team is working hard toward a reasonable bipartisan solution that will pass the House and Senate.”
The break in negotiations came a day after McCarthy said he was optimistic that congressional negotiators could reach an agreement in time to hold a House vote on it next week.
“I see a way we can come to an agreement,” the California Republican told reporters Thursday.
President Joe Biden was in Japan this week for a summit of G-7 leaders, but he cut his trip short to return home on Sunday and continue negotiations.
The House and Senate both kept their original plans to adjourn for the weekend on Thursday. The Senate is not scheduled to return to session until the last days of May.
But Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., advised members to be ready to return to the Capitol with 24 hours’ notice.
Investors are watching Washington closely this week for any signs of progress on the month-long debt ceiling moratorium. Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pointed to June 1 as the earliest date by which the United States may run out of money to pay the debts already incurred by the government.
The date is earlier than the White House or Wall Street had expected, and injects new urgency into talks that have been effectively stalled since February.
After a meeting at the White House on Tuesday with congressional leaders, President Joe Biden absorbed two of his closest assistants to take the speeches, which made little progress on the point.
McCarthy praised Biden’s selection of presidential adviser Steve Ricchetti and Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, calling the pair “very smart.”