Debt ceiling talks at an impasse as default deadline looms
President Joe Biden said he hopes to know by this evening whether there will be a deal on the debt limit as both sides race against the clock to avoid a first-ever default.
“There’s a negotiation going on. I’m hopeful we’ll know by tonight whether we’re going to be able to have a deal,” Biden told reporters before he left Washington, DC, to Camp David for the weekend.
“I hope we’ll have some clearer evidence tonight, before the clock strikes 12, that we have a deal. But it’s very close and I’m optimistic,” he continued.
Asked by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond about Democrats saying he shouldn’t bow on work requirements, Biden said: “I don’t bow to anybody.”
A senior White House official said earlier Friday that the Biden administration believes it is “on track” to get a deal passed in time to avert a June 5 deadline. The official said the White House thinks parties are “in the final stages of negotiations.”
What Republicans are saying: Key GOP negotiator Rep. Patrick McHenry also struck an optimistic tone Friday night about the state of the debt ceiling talks, saying he agrees with Biden’s assessment that they are close to a deal.
“I concur,” he told reporters. “Everybody wants to look for the white smoke. Yeah, we’re not at that stage yet. So, you have to have an agreement on the agreement which is the complicated part … the final bit of agreement is the hardest, longest wait.”
But he said of Biden’s tone, “That is a hopeful sign to me. And I’ve rarely used that term in the last 12 days that I’ve been involved in this. So the hopeful sign that the president is saying those things, tells me his White House team, you know, might be in a better disposition than what we’ve seen in previous days.”
He declined to say whether he thinks the White House is moving in the GOP’s direction on work requirements, which has been a chief sticking point.
White House spokesperson Andrew Bates on Friday sharply criticized Republican proposals to include work requirements as part of the debt ceiling and budget deal, saying the White House is “standing against this cruel and senseless tradeoff.”
On timing, McHenry said: “These are the things we have to just work through. And I don’t know how long that’s gonna take. I don’t know if that’s hours or days.”
McHenry signaled the two sides are trading legislative text as they go along instead of just toplines, so they’re not starting from scratch when they go to write the actual bill.
CNN’s Melanie Zanona, Kristin Wilson and Manu Raju contributed reporting to this post.