President Joe Biden said that progress is being made on resolving the debt ceiling impasse Saturday but noted that any deal based on negotiations was “not there yet.”
“We’re moving along; it’s hard to tell. We’ve not reached the crunch point yet. There’s real discussion about some changes we all could make. We’re not there yet,” he said during a brief gaggle ahead of his departure to Delaware, according to a pool reporter.
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Biden declined to answer questions about when he plans to meet with the “big four” congressional leaders again. He last convened a meeting with them Tuesday and was slated to hold another one Friday, but that was called off and postponed until some time next week.
Republicans and Democrats have been at odds over how to increase the nation’s $31.4 trillion borrowing authority, which it hit back in January. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has insisted any hike be paired with a reduction in spending, while Biden and Democrats have been adamant it occurs without any strings attached.
“We’ll know more in the next two days,” Biden added about progress during negotiations.
When pressed about how confident he was about a breakthrough before the June 1 Date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen gave for the government running out of cash to foot all its bills, Biden replied that there “has to be.” Should the United States blow past that deadline it runs the risk of an economically cataclysmic default on its loans.
Yellen similarly conveyed optimism that the two sides could work out an agreement in an interview published Saturday.
“My understanding is that the meeting with leadership was postponed because the negotiators are making some progress and want to have something concrete to discuss with the leadership,” Yellen said, per the Wall Street Journal. “I’m hopeful. I think the negotiations are very active. I’m told they have found some areas of agreement.”
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Although neither Biden nor Yellen elaborated specifics on the progress being made, multiple reports suggest Biden’s team is privately musing over a two-year debt limit deal that would place caps on discretionary spending and rescind unused COVID-19 funds. There are still sticking points over the longevity of those potential caps.
Biden’s trip to Delaware comes after he delivered an address at Howard University’s 155th Commencement Convocation, where he received an honorary degree.