A debt deal appears to be getting close


“It seems to me that if there’s a resolution that involves a spending freeze that the spending freeze should also match the length of time the debt ceiling is suspended,” Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday.

In another development, an energy transmission bill from Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) called the BIG Wires Act is under serious consideration for a final package, according to the person briefed, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly describe the private talks.

Together, that signals major progress on two of “four pillars” for a deal laid out recently by Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.): spending caps and energy permitting.

Another of Graves’ pillars, tightened work requirements for food aid recipients, is a trouble spot that is slowing discussions. The White House and Republicans anticipate finding some common ground on the fourth — clawing back unspent Covid aid dollars — but they aren’t getting specific yet.

To be clear: No one is working on the full, final legislative text right now. At this point, there is only speculation about how it could all unfold if a deal comes together.

Here’s how the next several days are expected to play out:

After Thursday morning’s votes, the House will recess for the (extra) long weekend. Leadership has promised that members will get 24 hours notice before they need to be back in Washington for votes. (Expect that to coincide with the 72-hour period for reviewing the legislation that McCarthy has promised.)

A Monday vote is most likely off the table. But some Republican aides are floating the possibility of a Tuesday night vote if they can get text in time. They would wait until after markets close to avoid any floor drama sending markets into a tizzy.

More on negotiation details and potential scheduling are expected once members are gone for the weekend. By waiting for their colleagues to clear out, leaders and negotiators hope to avoid fighting words from the rank-and-file going viral and tanking the ongoing talks.

One worrisome note that could help propel the final talks: One credit rating agency is considering downgrading the nation’s top credit rating as the country staggers towards default and negotiations between the White House and Republicans continue. Fitch has put the U.S. triple-A credit rating on “rating watch negative.”

“The brinkmanship over the debt ceiling, failure of the U.S. authorities to meaningfully tackle medium-term fiscal challenges that will lead to rising budget deficits and a growing debt burden signal downside risks to U.S. creditworthiness,” Fitch said.