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Biden, GOP tentative deal to avoid default

WASHINGTON – House Republicans reached a tentative agreement with the White House on Saturday night to address the nation’s debt ceiling and avoid a catastrophic default on US sovereign debt.

Three Republican sources said there is a tentative agreement between the Republican leadership and the White House on the debt ceiling deal, and the outline of the agreement will be relayed to GOP members on an all-members call that will take place soon, according to NBC News.

A senior Democratic aide familiar with the talks told NBC News that a deal is “very close” and could be announced tonight or tomorrow morning. Another Democratic aide says, “We’re dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.”

An all-member call for Democrats is not planned at this time, but according to a Democratic aide, it is possible that the call is scheduled for tonight.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will make formal remarks at 9:10 p.m. ET. He and President Joe Biden spoke about three hours ago.

The deal comes after more than a week of urgent talks between negotiators from the White House and House Republicans.

It also marks the beginning of a lobbying blitz by House and Senate leaders in both parties to persuade their members to vote for the package, which has been called in the GOP-controlled House and Democratic-held Senate to raise the US debt. Will need to win enough votes. Deadline to meet the June 5 deadline.

At least one senator, Utah Republican Mike Lee, has already threatened to use procedural maneuvers in the Senate to stall the debt ceiling bill for as long as possible if he doesn’t like it.

In the House, a group of 35 ultraconservative members publicly pressured McCarthy to demand even more concessions from Democrats and to “hold the line.” He also indicated that he would not support the deal which he thought had given so much.

The announcement of a deal stunned official Washington, where members of both the House and Senate were out of town for Memorial Day. Biden left the city on Friday to spend the weekend at Camp David.

The agreement was even more surprising in light of new guidance from the Treasury Department on Friday afternoon, which identified June 5 as the date after which the government will no longer have the money to meet its debt obligations unless Congress Loan limit not increased.

In announcing the June 5 date, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen clarified that the agency was scheduled to make “payments and transfers of an estimated $130 billion” during the first two days of June. This would “leave the Treasury with an extremely low level of resources.”

The week following June 5, the Treasury will have to make payments and transfers of “an estimated $92 billion,” Yellen wrote in a public letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Unless the debt limit is raised in time and the government is allowed to borrow more, “our estimated resources will be insufficient to meet all these obligations.”

The vote to increase the debt limit does not authorize additional government spending. It only allows the Treasury to meet obligations that were already approved by Congress decades ago, some of them.

Nevertheless, many Republicans have come to view the biennial vote to raise the debt ceiling as an opportunity to extract concessions from Democrats in exchange for their votes to avoid debt default.

This time too was no different. Republicans demanded that the White House agree to a bill that includes at least baseline government spending cuts, new work requirements for public assistance, energy permitting reform and the cancellation of unspent Covid emergency funds.

The White House initially balked at many of these, and negotiators spent the last two weeks trying to hammer out a compromise that could garner enough support for passage in the House and Senate.

“It’s not over. We’re not. But we’re within the window of being able to perform it and we’re going to have to come to some tough terms in these closing hours,” GOP negotiator Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina told reporters late Friday evening.

McHenry said he appreciated Yellen’s additional guidance, calling the Treasury secretary a “woman of principle” who Republicans had “great respect for” during the month-long debt limit standoff.

“In many respects, this is an answer to what House Republicans were questioning about the X date. Now we know, and it puts extra pressure on us.”

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