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 McDonough, Budget Director Sylvia Burwell 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 McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dan Coats (Ind.), Johnny Isakson (Ga.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Bob Corker (Tenn.) and John Hoeven (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