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 McDonoughRyan secures big win with bipartisan Puerto Rico deal Trump, GOP agree: ObamaCare helps us Clinton’s top five vice presidential picks MORE, Budget Director Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellHHS launches contest to make bills simpler Obama administration takes step to reform Medicare payments Rubio breaks with GOP, backs Obama Zika request 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 McCainFormer Bush national security official backing Clinton over Trump Juan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump Marines reignite debate on women in combat MORE (Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate Republicans may defy NRA on guns MORE (S.C.), Dan CoatsDan CoatsBipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate panel advances nominee who Democrats blasted on Social Security Lobbying World MORE (Ind.), Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonGOP senators: Obama bathroom guidance is 'not appropriate' Amateur theatrics: An insult to Africa Dem senator blocks push to tie 'gun ban' to spending bill MORE (Ga.), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteJuan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump McConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Republicans blast latest Gitmo transfer MORE (N.H.), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonJuan Williams: GOP sounds the sirens over Trump Vulnerable Republican seeks edge on homeland security Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA MORE (Wis.), Bob CorkerBob CorkerGOP senator: Something 'very, very good' can come from Brexit vote GOP senators: Brexit vote a wake-up call Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (Tenn.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenSenate panel approves funding boost for TSA Overnight Energy: Senate Dems block energy, water bill a third time Bison declared national mammal 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