Congress, White House indicate debt limit increase will be part of spending deal

Congress, White House indicate debt limit increase will be part of spending deal
© Getty Images

Congressional leaders and White House officials on Tuesday indicated that raising the debt ceiling will be part of a broader deal on spending caps.

"We all agree debt ceiling is going to be part of an overall deal, but we're not discussing that right now,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHillicon Valley: Biden signs order on chips | Hearing on media misinformation | Facebook's deal with Australia | CIA nominee on SolarWinds House Rules release new text of COVID-19 relief bill Budowsky: Cruz goes to Cancun, AOC goes to Texas MORE (N.Y.) told reporters after meeting with Congress’s three other party leaders and President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE’s senior advisers.


A White House official said the administration would be open to combining a debt limit increase and new defense and nondefense budgetary caps.

Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThunePassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Senate GOP campaign chief talks strategy with Trump Graham, Trump huddle to talk GOP's 2022 strategy MORE (S.D.), who did not participate in Tuesday's meeting in Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House House Republican attempts to appeal fine for bypassing metal detector outside chamber MORE's (D-Calif.) office, said it makes sense to attach debt limit legislation to a spending caps agreement.

“It has to be done somewhere. That would be a natural vehicle to put it on,” he said.

Congressional leaders met with senior White House officials for more than two hours in Pelosi’s office on Tuesday morning and reported “progress.”

Pelosi and Schumer were joined in the meeting by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKlain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Murkowski undecided on Tanden as nomination in limbo MORE (R-Ky.), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocratic fury with GOP explodes in House Trump to attack Biden in CPAC speech McConnell knocks Pelosi Jan. 6 commission proposal: 'Partisan by design' MORE (R-Calif.), Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven MnuchinOn The Money: Schumer urges Democrats to stick together on .9T bill | Collins rules out GOP support for Biden relief plan | Powell fights inflation fears Mnuchin expected to launch investment fund seeking backing from Persian Gulf region: report Larry Kudlow debuts to big ratings on Fox Business Network MORE, acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE and acting White House budget director Russ Vought.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan joined for a portion of the meeting.

“We have some differences but there’s some good progress being made,” Schumer told reporters afterward.

Mulvaney declined to say whether he could agree to a two-year spending deal, which Democratic and GOP leaders favor as a strategy to avoid another government shutdown.

“We are coming back later this afternoon,” said Mulvaney, who declined to discuss any details.

They plan to resume negotiations at 4:15 p.m.

House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthDemocrats in standoff over minimum wage On The Money: Neera Tanden's nomination in peril after three GOP noes | Trump rages after SCOTUS rules on financial records House panel advances Biden's .9T COVID-19 aid bill MORE (D-Ky.), who was briefed on Tuesday morning's meeting, said that as far as he knew, nobody in the negotiations was opposed to raising the debt ceiling.
“I know Mnuchin wants it, and we certainly want it,” he said, referring to inclusion of the debt increase in a spending deal.
The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The negotiators are likely to settle on a numerical increase, as opposed to the more common practice in recent years of suspending the ceiling for a certain period, Yarmuth said.
The White House has called for the fiscal 2020 spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act to take effect and to increase defense spending with the Overseas Contingency Operations fund, which does not count against the budget caps.

Democrats say nondefense domestic programs need to be increased alongside defense programs.

“We have certain domestic needs that are very important to us,” Schumer said.

A senior Democratic aide said before the meeting that “Democrats want parity in increases between defense and nondefense, and want to avoid sequestration at all costs.”

Yarmuth said that there seemed to be some consensus at Tuesday's meeting about putting overall defense spending at $733 billion, $17 billion below the administration’s request.
House appropriators on Tuesday marked up their defense spending bill based on the $733 billion, which includes both a cap increase and off-book spending.
Updated at 4:15 p.m.