Top GOP negotiator Garret Graves said ‘hell no’ when asked Friday if Republicans could possibly give in on their demands for stricter work requirements for receiving welfare benefits in a debt ceiling deal.
‘Hell no. Hell no. Not a chance, not happening,’ the Louisiana Republican told reporters, digging his heels in on a demand that many in the Democratic caucus say they will oppose at all costs.
‘Democrats right now are willing to default on the debt so they can continue making welfare payments to people that are refusing to work,’ he said.
‘We continue to have major issues that we have not bridged the gap on,’ the negotiator said as he hopped into a car and went to the White House – not for debt negotiations but to celebrate the Louisiana State University women’s basketball team with President Biden.
He said he would return to the Capitol after the celebration to dive back into debt talks.
Top GOP negotiator Garret Graves said ‘hell no’ when asked Friday if Republicans could possibly give in on their demands for stricter work requirements for welfare
Fellow top negotiator Rep. Patrick McHenry told reporters on his way into the speaker’s office that there were no in-person meetings scheduled between House GOP negotiators and White House negotiators Steve Ricchetti and Shalanda Young for Friday.
Graves, together with Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., has been leading debt negotiations for Speaker McCarthy with the White House
Graves had said one day earlier the White House was ‘refusing to negotiate’ on work requirements.
Both the Progressive Caucus and the Congressional Black Caucus have fired off warnings to President Biden not to give in on strengthening work requirements for programs like SNAP and TANF along with Medicaid.
The party-line debt limit and spending cuts bill passed by Republicans last month, the Limit Save Grow Act, increased work requirements to 20 hours per week for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP – also known as food stamps) for those between the ages of 50 and 56. The current program only has such requirements for those between 18 and 49, who are able-bodied and do not have dependents.
It would also limit the number of exemptions states could make for the requirements.
On SNAP, the Republican proposal would save $11 billion over 10 years.
Creating new work requirements for Medicaid would create the most savings out of the GOP work proposals, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office — $109 billion over the next decade — though that is the program the White House is most opposed to putting work requirements on.
Meanwhile, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is facing pressure from the rightward flank of his caucus.
He insisted to reporters Friday he was ‘not at all’ concerned about warnings from the conservative members of his caucus because they ‘don’t know what’s in the deal.’
Earlier this week 35 members of the House Freedom Caucus circulated a letter to the GOP conference calling on McCarthy to ‘hold the line’ in talks with the White House and not water down the Limit Save Grow Act.
That bill would increase the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion in exchange for saving $4.5 trillion by capping spending at fiscal year 2022 levels in 2024. It will also limit growth to one percent per year for 10 years.
‘You’re talking to people who don’t know what’s in the deal. So I’m not concerned about anybody making any comments right now about what they think is in or not in,’ McCarthy said, asked about the opposition grumblings within his conference.
‘If you wonder about holding the line, where we’ve been all the time, we don’t want to be in this deadline. We wanted to solve this months before.’
McCarthy said he believed ‘progress’ was made in debt talks overnight, though the two sides still remain hung up on the biggest part: spending levels.
‘I thought we made progress last night. We got to make more progress now,’ McCarthy told reporters on his way into the Capitol.
He said he’d met with his top negotiating deputy, Rep. Garret Graves, for a morning bike ride.
‘It’s about spending. The Democrats never want to stop,’ McCarthy said.
In 2011, the country was in a similar crisis under former President Barack Obama who also faced a Republican House opposed to raising the ceiling.
While the ceiling was raised, the threat of default was enough to plunge the U.S. financial markets into turmoil and the country’s rating downgraded from AAA to AA+ as a result.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he believed ‘progress’ was made in debt talks overnight, though the two sides still remain hung up on the biggest part: spending levels
Graves and McHenry were seen entering the speaker’s office again mid-morning on Friday.
The two sides still have not come to an agreement on a top line number for increasing the nation’s borrowing limit.
President Biden is headed to Camp David Friday before he plans to spend the weekend at his home in Delaware. The White House insists he can negotiate from anywhere via phone.
‘We are here night after night after night. The pressure is more, the consequences are greater. We recognize that. The White House should recognize that,’ McHenry, N.C., said.
Reporters huddle around the speaker desperate for updates on the impending deal that could stave off a catastrophic default
Bloomberg reports the two sides are closing in on a deal that would increase the debt limit for two years and would cap spending for the same amount of time – and the deal would claw back $10 billion from the $80 billion increase in IRS funding Democrats passed last Congress.
But a source familiar with the talks told DailyMail.com the two sides have not agreed to a top line and have not agreed on whether to extend borrowing for one or two years. Republicans want only one year, Democrats want to push the extension through the next election.
The two sides are also going into Friday hung up on defense spending. Republicans wanted a large increase to the defense budget, even as they want to cut spending overall, while Democrats wanted spending cuts. The two sides could come to agreement with a small increase – in line with President Biden’s $886.3 billion budget request.