White House, Senate GOP debt talks on the rocks after meeting

A Thursday deficit meeting between White House officials and GOP senators failed to yield progress toward a deal, sources said.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughHow Congress averted shutdown White House makes new push for young ObamaCare signups Obama: I curse more than I should MORE, Budget Director Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellOvernight Healthcare: McConnell unveils new Zika package | Manchin defends daughter on EpiPens | Bill includes M for opioid crisis Insurance executives ask for changes to ObamaCare Obama meets with insurance CEOs on health law MORE and deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors hosted the senators at the White House, Obama spokesman Josh Earnest confirmed.

The sides remain "far apart" on the scope of the problem and size of a solution, a Senate source said afterward. 

The White House did not reveal a list of the senators that attended the meeting.

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A White House official indicated after the meeting ended that the stumbling block remained the issue of raising taxes to cut the deficit.

"On matters related to the budget, the president has always been clear that closing tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy had to be part of any big deal. That’s been clear for several years," the official said.

No further meetings are scheduled at this time. 

The lack of a breakthrough only increases the chances for a dangerous debt-ceiling showdown between the House GOP and President Obama this fall. Treasury this week urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling before mid-October, when it said it would only have around $50 billion in funds. 

Obama had hoped that defense hawks in the Senate would be willing to cut a deal that replaces scheduled defense and social program cuts with a combination of entitlement changes and new revenue. 

But so far, he has been unable to reach such a deal with GOP senators despite a series of meetings. 


GOP senators who have been in talks over the last year with the White House include Sens. John McCainJohn McCainKerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria Trump, Clinton to headline Al Smith dinner Overnight Defense: Congress overrides Obama 9/11 veto | Pentagon breathes easy after funding deal | More troops heading to Iraq MORE (Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamKerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria GOP leaders express reservations a day after 9/11 veto override McConnell opens door to changing 9/11 bill MORE (S.C.), Dan CoatsDan CoatsDem groups invest big in Bayh in Ind. Senate race Indiana Senate race tightens as Republicans take on Bayh Conservative group targets Evan Bayh on ObamaCare MORE (Ind.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGrassley pulling away from Dem challenger Fifteen years since pivotal executive order, STORM Act could help fight terror finance GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase MORE (Ga.), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteAbortion rights group ads tie vulnerable GOP senators to Trump Election-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Vulnerable NH Republican ties reelection bid to Trump MORE (N.H.), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Grassley accuses Reid of 'pure unfiltered partisanship' California to allow experimental drug treatments for the terminally ill MORE (Wis.), Bob CorkerBob CorkerDem leaders defend overriding 9/11 bill veto GOP leaders express reservations a day after 9/11 veto override White House: Congress has 'buyer's remorse' on 9/11 bill MORE (Tenn.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto Gitmo bill GOP senators fight female draft in defense bill Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention MORE (N.D.).

The senators and McDonough also had a "useful" discussion on Syria at the meeting, the official said. 

"We appreciated the meeting, which continued the series of candid – and helpful – exchanges.  And it was particularly helpful to consult with the group about the situation in Syria,' the official said. 


-- This story was originally published at 2:29 pm and last updated at 4:27