Republican leaders in the House of Representatives and the White House appear to have reached an “agreement in principle” to raise the debt ceiling — just over a week before the deadline to avoid a potential default.
Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted the news Saturday night. He said the parties have come to an “agreement in principle that is worthy of the American people.”
“We still have a lot of work to do,” McCarthy said on Saturday night, indicating to reporters that “the writing of it” was still left to be done in the evening.
He said the text is expected to be posted on Sunday, with a vote on Wednesday.
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Details of the deal have not yet been released, but discussions earlier in the day revolved around a two-year budget agreement aimed at curbing federal deficits.
McCarthy and his fellow negotiators have been driving for steep cuts during ongoing negotiations, but the two sides had been unable to agree on spending levels for 2024 and 2025.
On Friday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen extended the deadline for an agreement to raise the government’s $31.4-trillion debt ceiling to June 5.
She said in a letter to Congress her department would make more than $130 billion in scheduled payments in the first two days of the month, but it would leave the Treasury “with an extremely low level of resources.”
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Budget flow was not the only hang-up during negotiations. There was debate on whether to agree to Republican demands to impose stiffer work requirements on people who receive government food stamps, cash assistance and health care aid, which Democrats have long resisted.
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As he left for Camp David, President Joe Biden was asked what he would say to Democrats who didn’t want him to bow to Republicans on work requirements. The president said he didn’t “bow to anyone,” though it’s not yet known what may have been negotiated.
Lawmakers were tentatively not expected back at work until Tuesday, just six days before the new deadline when Yellen said the U.S. could start running out of cash to pay its bills. But with a deal now reached, it is likely lawmakers could return much sooner in order to review the deal and vote on the agreement.
In addition, McCarthy had promised lawmakers he would abide by the rule to post any bill for members to view 72 hours before holding a vote. The Democratic-held Senate, which has been in recess, has vowed to move quickly to send the package to Biden’s desk before the possible deadline.
What is contained in the deal will likely influence whether the House and Senate still vote in favour or against. With members of both parties having their own hard lines about what they would accept and each party holding narrow control of separate chambers, even a single vote could put raising the country’s debt limit in doubt.
— with files from the Associated Press
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