: McCarthy deputies say debt-ceiling talks are ‘up and down,’ and ‘major issues’ persist

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Debt-ceiling talks are “up and down,” Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, a key deputy for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, told reporters on Friday.

“We are in the middle of a lot of different conversations and a lot of different paper coming back and forth, and as I said, the details are thornier, the consequences are greater,” McHenry said.

“The leaks don’t serve getting an agreement that changes the trajectory of the country,” the GOP congressman also said, in an apparent reference to reports revealing elements of the emerging debt-limit deal.

When asked if negotiators could bring matters to a close on Friday, McHenry responded by throwing his hands up.

U.S. stocks



closed sharply higher Friday, with the advance attributed in part to rising hopes for a debt-ceiling deal.

The emerging agreement is expected to include energy-permitting reforms, claw-backs for unused COVID-19 aid and potentially tougher work requirements for recipients of some federal assistance. Another McCarthy deputy, Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, told reporters Friday afternoon that Republicans won’t back down on work requirements.

“Hell, no. Not a chance,” Graves said.

The Louisiana congressman also said differences were persisting.

“We continue to have major issues that we have not bridged the gap on,” he said.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo indicated on Friday morning that he has been seeing steps forward.

“We’re making progress, and our goal is to make sure that we get a deal, because default is unacceptable,” Adeyemo said during a CNN interview.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has been warning that the U.S. government could become unable to meet all of its obligations as soon as this coming Thursday if Congress doesn’t raise the limit on federal borrowing, though some Republicans have expressed skepticism about her deadline. But late Friday, she extended her deadline to June 5.

In August 2011, lawmakers approved an increase to the limit just hours before a potential government default. Within days, the U.S. lost its triple-A credit rating from S&P for the first time in history, with the ratings agency saying the American political system had become less stable.

U.S. stocks plunged in August 2011 following that downgrade from S&P.

On Wednesday evening, Fitch Ratings warned that it might cut the country’s triple-A credit rating.

Related: McCarthy addresses debt-ceiling angst: ‘I would not, if I was in the markets, be afraid of anything’

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