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GOP-led House leaves town without debt limit agreement with Biden, as default approaches

The House is not in session on Friday as the Treasury Department's early June deadline to raise the debt limit fast approaches

Published: May 25, 2023 11:45pm

Updated: May 26, 2023 8:46pm

The GOP-led House left Capitol Hill on Thursday for the chamber's annual Memorial Day recess without a debt limit agreement with the White House as the clock ticks.

The House calendar, set by Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise, shows members won't return to Washington, D.C., until June 5. 

Congress' lead negotiator in the deal with Democrat President Joe Biden is Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the U.S. would default on its debt in early June if no deal is reached to raise the debt ceiling.

Some conservatives in Congress dispute the deadline and the warning of dire economic consequences if the ceiling is not raised within the coming days.

Nevertheless, the House and Senate are not in session during the week of the Memorial Day holiday and members would have to vote to approve any such deal.

The House passed legislation last month that would raise the debt ceiling $1.5 trillion into next year and reduce federal spending by an estimated $4.5 trillion over 10 years.

The White House and congressional leaders from both parties have been negotiating since February to reach a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

Since then, McCarthy, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have participated in several White House meetings with Biden but have yet to reach an agreement.

Biden and congressional Democrats want the ceiling to be raised without the spending reductions the GOP wants in exchange. So far, Biden hasn't publicly identified any parts of the federal budget in which he would be willing to reduce spending.

McCarthy has said the federal government should reduce domestic spending given that a record amount of debt was created as a result of the stimulus bills that were passed during the pandemic.

He told reporters that the White House hasn't agreed to reduce any domestic spending with defense spending not on the table.

"We have to spend less than we spent last year," said McCarthy, a California Republican. "It is not my fault that the Democrats cannot give up on their spending."

The national debt is climbing toward a record $32 trillion.

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