Debt Ceiling Talks Aren’t Going Well

(NPR) House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he’s sending his negotiating team back to the White House to “try to finish up the negotiations” with President Biden’s team after several days that showed few signs of progress as the U.S. teeters close to the brink of an unprecedented default on its debt.

“I think we can make progress today. I’m hoping that we can make progress,” McCarthy said on Wednesday morning, before level setting that the groups remain “far apart.”

His comments come a day after Republican negotiators shared their frustration at the state of staff-level talks.

“There is a significant gap between where we are and where they are,” Louisiana Rep. Garret Graves, a top proxy for McCarthy in talks told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday night. “Unless and until the White House recognizes that this is a spending problem, then we’re gonna continue to have a significant gap.”

Meanwhile, the White House is still talking about reducing the deficit by closing tax loopholes and raising taxes on billionaires, which has already been rejected by Republicans.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a briefing on Tuesday that the talks have yielded one agreement: default isn’t an option. She also insisted that despite the difficult nature of negotiations, the talks have been productive.

“We believe there is a space and an opportunity here to have a bipartisan, reasonable … budget agreement,” she said.

But the clock is ticking.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned lawmakers the U.S. could be unable to pay its bills and default on its debt as early as June 1.

It’s a deadline both Graves and North Carolina Rep. Patrick McHenry, a key McCarthy ally involved in the talks, say they are operating under.

McHenry, who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, called Yellen a “straight shooter.”