WASHINGTON – Negotiations between the White House and House Republicans appeared to be deadlocked after meetings over the weekend, with Republican lawmakers sticking to their demands for drastic budget cuts and rejecting alternative forms of reducing the deficit. The president, Joe Biden and world leaders were following the talks remotely in hopes that the crucial discussions would make progress in avoiding a potentially catastrophic federal default.
The Biden administration and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., had been seeking a budget deal that would pave the way for raising the nation’s debt ceiling. Republicans rejected the White House’s plan for less drastic cuts and increased revenue. Both sides faced a June 1 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, which now stands at $31 trillion, so that the government can continue paying the country’s bills.
“We’re going to have a chance to talk later today,” Biden said of McCarthy during a meeting with the heads of Japan and South Korea on the sidelines of the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima, Japan.
A person with knowledge of the talks said McCarthy may need more than 100 Democratic votes to pass a deal in the House, given Republican defections and past polling. The person was not authorized to provide details about the proposal and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
In the latest round of talks, McCarthy’s team demanded sharp cuts in non-defense spending, while pushing for increased funding for the military. The person said the most affected sectors were likely to be education, health, the Meals on Wheels food program and other projects.
The Republican Party wants to combine employment requirements with Medicaid, although the government has responded that millions of people would lose their health coverage. Republicans have further cut food aid by limiting the ability of states to remove job requirements in places with high unemployment, an idea already floated by the Trump administration and projected to kill 700,000 people. Was. They will lose their food subsidy.
In addition, Republican legislators sought to reduce funding of the Internal Revenue Service of the United States Department of the Treasury (IRS), and asked the White House to accept portions of their immigration reform proposal. .
The White House instead offered to hold defense and non-defense spending steady next year, which would save $90 billion in fiscal year 2024 and $1 trillion over 10 years.
Republicans also rejected White House proposals to increase revenue to further reduce the deficit. Among the options rejected by Republicans were rules that would allow Medicare to pay less for prescription drugs and to close a dozen loopholes in the tax law. Republicans have refused to repeal tax breaks for corporations and wealthy families that were introduced in the Trump administration as proposed in the Biden budget.
Given Saturday’s lack of progress and mutual accusations that the other side was being unfair, Biden received frequent reports on the status of the talks and instructed his team to set up a call with McCarthy.
The decision to schedule the call came after another day with no sign of progress. Food was brought to a room in the Capitol on Saturday morning, but it was taken away hours later and no gathering was expected. However, talks could resume on Sunday after talks between Biden and McCarthy.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement, “The president’s (lower house) team put forward a resolution that was a huge step backwards and contained a set of highly partisan demands that have never been passed by both houses of Congress.” could have been done.” Saturday night.
“Let’s be clear: The president’s team is ready to meet at any moment,” Jean-Pierre said, noting that the Republican leadership is eyeing its extreme wing by threatening default.
McCarthy tweeted that it was the White House that was “walking back on the conversation.”
He said the “socialist wing” of the Democratic Party has taken over, “especially President Biden out of the country.”
Republican Congressman Dusty Johnson, who worked closely with McCarthy to shape the Republican proposal, told The Associated Press on Saturday night that there was no meeting scheduled for Sunday. Republican negotiators are trying to get the president’s attention instead.
Johnson warned, “If the president doesn’t recommit, I don’t know if the talks will bear fruit.”
At the G7 summit in Japan, Biden attempted to reassure his allies that the United States would not default, something that would shake the world economy. He said he saw progress in the talks.
“The first meetings were not so progressive, the second were, the third were”, the president said, adding that in his opinion “we will be able to avoid a default and we will be able to do something good”.
Miller reported from Hiroshima, Japan. Associated Press writers Josh Bock and congressional correspondent Lisa Mascaro in Hiroshima, Japan, as well as AP writers Stephen Groves and Farnoush Amiri in Washington, contributed to this report.
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