The White House on Friday said “steady progress” is being made toward lifting the debt limit and avoiding a default.
President Biden received an update from his negotiating team while he is traveling in Japan for the Group of Seven meetings.
“The president’s team informed him that steady progress is being made,” a White House official said. “The president directed his team to continue pressing forward for a bipartisan agreement and made clear the need to protect essential programs for hardworking Americans and the economic progress of the past two years as negotiations head into advanced stages.”
White House optimism mirrors positive smoke signals from Capitol Hill one day earlier. Buoying the talks is the fact that both sides have appointed trusted negotiators that are seen as honest brokers.
House Republicans want at least $130 billion in immediate spending cuts. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has said half of that money can be made up by rescinding more than $60 billion in unspent pandemic relief.
Republicans also want to expand work requirements for welfare recipients, cap future federal spending and streamline the federal permitting process for energy projects. And they want to cancel more than $200 billion in green energy tax credits that Democrats passed last year as part of Mr. Biden‘s signature climate law.
Mr. Biden has signaled that the demand to nix his green energy credits is a non-starter. Still, the White House appears open to some of the Republicans’ other demands.
The president has also opened the door to accepting expanded work requirements on direct cash payments to needy families, but not Medicaid or food stamps.
Mr. Biden “remains confident that Congress will take necessary action to avoid default,” the White House said.
For months, the White House said Congress should act to lift the debt limit without conditions attached. House Republicans, however, said they offered a plan to start reeling in the nation’s runaway debt so it was time for Mr. Biden to negotiate.
With default looming, Mr. Biden cut short plans to stop in Papua New Guinea and Australia following weekend G7 meetings in Hiroshima, Japan.
• Haris Alic contributed to this report.
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