A second meeting on Friday between White House and Republican congressional negotiators on raising the federal government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling broke up with no progress cited by either side and no additional meeting set.
That came at the end of a day of acrimonious talks that were broken off for several hours, with less than two weeks to go before June 1, when the Treasury Department warned that the federal government could be unable to pay all its debts. That would trigger a calamitous default.
While the White House acknowledged that “serious differences” remained with Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, President Joe Biden said he still believed a default could be avoided.
“I still believe we’ll be able to avoid a default and we’ll get something decent done,” Biden told reporters in Hiroshima, Japan, where he is attending a meeting of leaders of the Group of Seven rich nations.
Republicans have said they would not approve an increase in the federal government’s borrowing limit without agreement on sharp spending cuts.
“There continues to be real … differences between the parties on these issues,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters earlier, also in Hiroshima.
The lead Republican in the talks said no progress had been made on Friday.
“We had a very, very candid discussion talking about where we are, talking about where things need to be,” Republican Representative Garret Graves told reporters following a second brief meeting in the Capitol with White House officials.
“This wasn’t a negotiation tonight,” Graves said, adding the timing of the next meeting was not set.
He echoed remarks by House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy that progress needed to be made on changing the “trajectory” of U.S. government deficit spending and rapidly rising debt.