WASHINGTON (AP) — A top debt ceiling negotiator for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Friday it’s time to “press pause” on talks as negotiations with the White House came to an abrupt standstill at the Capitol.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., tapped by McCarthy, R-Calif., to lead the talks, emerged from an hourlong session and said gaps remained between House Republicans and the Democratic administration.
“It’s time to press pause because it’s just not productive,” Graves told reporters.
Graves said the negotiations are “just unreasonable” and that it was unclear when talks would resume.
President Joe Biden’s administration is racing to strike a deal with Republicans led by McCarthy as the nation careens toward a potentially catastrophic debt default if the government fails to increase the borrowing limit to keep paying the nation’s bills.
Negotiators met for a third day behind closed doors at the Capitol with hopes of settling on an agreement this weekend before possible House votes next week. They face a looming deadline as soon as June 1 when the Treasury Department has said it will run out of cash to pay the government’s incurred debt.
Republicans want to extract steep spending cuts that Biden has so far refused to accept. Any deal would need support of both Republicans and Democrats to find approval in the divided Congress and be passed into law.
WHO IS GARRET GRAVES?
Graves has emerged as one of McCarthy’s most trusted allies in the House Republican conference, and he has been tasked with serving as the point person for the Speaker as negotiations progress.
Graves, who was elected in 2014, sits on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee.
McCarthy told reporters Wednesday that he speaks with Graves “very frequently,” and that the congressman was integral in crafting the Republican bill that passed late last month that would raise the debt ceiling and cap government spending moving forward. The White House has said it would veto the legislation, which is also a non-starter in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
“So he has a clear understanding of where members are,” McCarthy said. “He is a former staffer, he’s a former member working in government. He understands policy, many people would call him a policy wonk.”