Republican lawmakers would resume discussions over the federal debt limit with the White House late on Friday, Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy said, hours after his designated negotiators walked out of talks.
“We’ll be back in the room tonight,” McCarthy said in an interview with Fox Business. Another person familiar with the talks also confirmed they would resume.
The resumption of discussions will be seen as a signal that the two sides are inching towards an agreement. Without a deal to raise the borrowing limit, officials have warned of a government default after June 1.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Earlier in the day, Garret Graves, the Republican congressman from Louisiana who has emerged as the point person for McCarthy, left a meeting room on Capitol Hill where talks were taking place, telling reporters negotiators would “press pause”.
“Until people are willing to have reasonable conversations about how you can actually move forward and do the right thing, then we are not going to sit here and talk to ourselves,” Graves said.
The White House earlier said: “There are real differences between the parties on budget issues and talks will be difficult. The president’s team is working hard towards a reasonable bipartisan solution.”
The harsh words from Graves came just a day after McCarthy suggested a deal to raise the debt ceiling could be put to a vote in the House as soon as next week. Any debt ceiling deal would need to pass the House, which is controlled by Republicans, and the Senate, which is held by Democrats, before being signed into law by President Joe Biden.
Lawmakers have been scrambling to strike a deal ahead of June 1, which has been identified by Treasury secretary Janet Yellen as the so-called x-date when the government risks running out of cash and defaulting on its obligations.
“We’re not there, we haven’t agreed to anything yet. But I see the path that we can come to an agreement,” McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
But members of McCarthy’s own party poured cold water on his optimism later on Thursday, when they suggested they would not support any deal struck with the White House.
The Freedom Caucus of rightwing lawmakers issued a statement signalling they were only prepared to back a Republican bill that recently passed the House that ties raising the debt ceiling to steep spending cuts, which is a non-starter with Democrats.
“There should be no further discussion until the Senate passes the legislation,” it said.
The Freedom Caucus statement underlined the tough political balancing act for McCarthy as he seeks to keep his often fractious conference united while brokering a deal that will satisfy Biden and congressional Democrats.
Biden likewise is walking a political tightrope as he seeks to strike an agreement without alienating more progressive members of his party, who have bristled at the suggestion that the president might sign on to Republican requests, including stricter work requirements for people claiming social welfare benefits.
Biden travelled to Japan for the G7 meetings on Wednesday, but is cutting his trip short and will return to Washington on Sunday in light of the debt ceiling stalemate.