A senior adviser to President Biden said that talks Wednesday between staff for the White House and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over debt ceiling negotiations were “productive” but admitted the two sides are “a long way away.”
Gene Sperling, a senior adviser to Biden who directed the National Economic Council under former Presidents Clinton and Obama, told NewsNation’s “The Hill” that staff for the White House and McCarthy met for more than two hours Tuesday, as lawmakers try to find a way to avoid hitting the country’s debt ceiling.
“It was a conversation that, for at this stage of the discussion, was productive,” Sperling said. “I think there was a good feeling in the room, or at least a sense of productivity.”
The talks between the two staffs came after a high-profile meeting Tuesday between Biden, McCarthy and other congressional leaders yielded little progress. The Speaker said Tuesday after the meeting at the White House that he didn’t see “any new movement.” Biden sounded more optimistic after the gathering, saying the talks were “productive.”
But the lawmakers must move fast in order to avoid default, after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced the U.S. could reach its debt limit by June 1.
Republicans have insisted that the White House and Democrats agree to spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit — the House GOP passed a bill that would do just that. But the White House has said they will not negotiate on spending cuts before passing a debt ceiling rise.
Sperling admitted that a gulf remains between the two sides before an agreement can be reached.
“Are people there yet? No,” Sperling said. “Are they a long ways away? Yes.”
Biden and congressional leaders are expected to meet again Friday.
National Economic Council
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