US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media as he leaves a gathering on the debt ceiling with US President Joe Biden on the White House in Washington, DC, on May 22, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON — A big group of House Republicans raised questions Tuesday about whether the Treasury Department’s June 1 deadline to avoid a possible U.S. debt default was accurate.
“We might wish to see more transparency on how they arrive to that date,” House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise said Tuesday at a news conference.
Scalise also said he believed that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s latest comments, out Monday, “implied that it’s June 1, or later, giving some openness to the concept June 1 might not be the so called X-date.”
Yellen released a recent letter to congressional leaders Monday that appeared to say the other of what Scalise claimed, specifically omitting a line from a previous letter about how extraordinary measures could buy the US more time to avoid defaulting on its debt.
“We have not really been capable of see numerous transparency, but it surely looks like they’re hedging now and opening up the door to maneuver that date back,” said Scalise.
A Treasury spokesperson declined to comment.
US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, center, speaks to members of the media while arriving to the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
Nathan Howard | Bloomberg | Getty Images
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has not questioned Yellen’s timeline, and on Tuesday his office reaffirmed in a recent release that the deadline for talks is June 1. “President Biden now has just 9 days to get serious and strike a responsible agreement to lift the debt limit immediately,” read the discharge.
On Capitol Hill, debt ceiling negotiators prepared to narrow their focus to a smaller group of key issues that were ripe for compromise, an encouraging development with just nine days left before the U.S. faced the intense risk of a potentially catastrophic national debt default.
“We’re getting closer,” McCarthy told reporters late Monday, adding that the “circle” of issues was becoming “smaller, smaller, smaller.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday said there have been not plans for the pair to fulfill that day, but McCarthy has been negotiating “in good faith.”
“Yes, we just should proceed to do this, now we have to maintain doing that,” Jean-Pierre said.
The problems still on the table Tuesday included reforms to energy permitting, recent work requirements for some types of federal aid and the redistribution of unused Covid-19 emergency funds.
Also on the table are “health savings,” CNBC reported Monday, which could include reforms to how much the federal government pays health-care firms under several major federal medical insurance plans.
McCarthy met Monday afternoon with President Joe Biden, a head to head that each side described as “productive,” but which did not bring the deal to lift the debt limit that financial markets and global investors are counting on.
US House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (C) speaks during a press conference by Courage for America on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 23, 2023. Courage for America faults far-right House Representatives for the default crisis.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
House Republicans held their weekly conference meeting Tuesday morning, during which McCarthy reportedly said they were “nowhere near a deal” and urged the caucus to stay together and support the deal he eventually reaches.
“Lower than 10 days from a default, Joe Biden has yet to supply or accept our sensible solution that raises the debt ceiling and addresses our debt crisis,” said House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, N.Y., on Tuesday.
A Republican negotiator, Rep. Patrick McHenry, N.C., told reporters that spending was still the most important hurdle to an agreement.
Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., left, and Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., speak to reporters about debit cieling negotiations as they leave the House Republicans’ caucus meeting on the Capitol Hill Club in Washington on Tuesday, May 23, 2023.
Bill Clark | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images
“The elemental issue here is the spending. This isn’t about gamesmanship,” McHenry said Tuesday outside the headquarters of the Republican National Committee. “That is about us getting a deal before the deadline that meets the Speaker’s message that we’re spending less money next yr than we’re spending now.”
Biden is hoping to achieve a debt limit deal that will push the subsequent deadline out past the 2024 presidential election. But House Republicans, who to this point have endorsed only a one-year hike, say that if Biden wants more time, then he might want to conform to much more cuts.
–CNBC’s Emma Kinery contributed to this text.
It is a developing story. Please check back for updates.