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McCarthy notes progress as debt-limit talks narrow toward deal

Billy House and Christian Hall, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said talks on the debt ceiling resumed Friday, with negotiations stretching into the final days before the U.S. risks defaulting.

“I thought we made progress yesterday. I want to make progress again today,” McCarthy told reporters as he entered the Capitol after a morning bike ride with top negotiator Representative Garret Graves.

Negotiators for McCarthy and President Joe Biden haven’t met in person since Wednesday but spoke late into the night Thursday and were in regular communication throughout the day Friday. The talks have yielded some agreement but a deal has remained elusive.

Republican Patrick McHenry, who on Thursday said he was “not pessimistic” about the talks, emerged from McCarthy’s office early Friday afternoon and vented frustrations as two dozen reporters shouted for details on the talks.

“There is forward progress, But each time there’s for progress the issues that remain become more difficult and more challenging,” McHenry said. “So that is step by step, small step by small step. At some point this thing can can come together or go the other way.”

McCarthy, who noted he hasn’t spoken with Biden in the last 24 hours, has signaled over the last several days that a deal is slowly coming together. Even so, Congress risks not passing a final deal before June 1 — the date by which Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the U.S. could start running out of cash to pay its bills.


With less than a week to go and at least one Republican senator threatening to tie up any bill with procedural obstacles that would take days to resolve, lawmakers are exploring other options. One such move would be a short-term measure that would allow Treasury to issue enough debt to cover a few days of payment obligations while a deal works through the legislative process, a Republican aide said on Friday.

The Capitol complex is nearly empty with most lawmakers gone ahead of a long holiday weekend. Negotiators have been asked to keep working until they reach a deal.

The two sides have narrowed differences in talks over recent days, people familiar with the discussions said, though the details agreed to are tentative and a final accord is still not in hand.

The emerging deal, which is not yet finalized, would raise the debt limit and cap federal spending for two years, according to people familiar with the matter. Also, defense spending would be permitted to rise 3% next year in line with Biden’s budget request.


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