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Debt ceiling negotiations intensify between Biden, Republicans

Debt ceiling negotiations intensify between Biden, Republicans

Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., left, and Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., speak to reporters about debt ceiling negotiations as they leave the House Republicans’ caucus meeting at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, May 23, 2023.

Bill Clark | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Urgent talks to raise the U.S. debt ceiling appeared to move closer to a deal Thursday, with only seven days to go before the United States faces an imminent threat of debt default.

But negotiators warned that the final phase of talks would likely be the most delicate and difficult for both sides.

“We’re at a sensitive phase, with sensitive issues that remain. Those sensitive issues are the thorniest issues that we’ve been discussing,” Republican negotiator Rep. Patrick McHenry told reporters at the Capitol Thursday. “Everybody’s trying to do a fine job of figuring out the finer details of this, but nothing’s done.”

McHenry said that no face-to-face meetings with the White House negotiating team had been planned for Thursday, but that he did not view this as a sign that talks had stalled.

“They’ve got work in the White House, we have work here in the Capitol. I don’t know about us physically being together, but there’s alignment on the set of things that we need to work on,” said McHenry.

Read more: What Republicans want in exchange for raising the debt limit

At the White House, President Joe Biden sounded a cautiously optimistic note. “The only way to move forward is with a bipartisan agreement, and I believe we’ll come to an agreement that allows us to move forward and protects the hardworking Americans of this country,” he said Thursday.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he did not know if there would be a deal reached Thursday.

“We’ve already talked to the White House today, we’ll continue to work,” he said after the House finished their last vote of the week and prepared to leave town. “They’re working on numbers, we’re working on numbers and we’ll work together.”

One influential Republican said he was optimistic about reaching a deal before the holiday weekend. Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma, who chairs the 156-member Republican Study Committee, said Thursday that he believed it was “likely” a deal would be reached by Friday afternoon.

“We are inching closer to a deal. I think it’s some of the finer points they are working on right now,” Hern told Reuters. “You are likely to see a deal by tomorrow afternoon.”

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