Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there are no immediate plans for congressional leaders to meet with the Trump administration to avert fiscal calamity as a trio of budget deadlines approaches, even as there are signs the president’s negotiators are seeking to re-engage with her.
Pelosi told reporters Tuesday that she’s still waiting to hear back from the White House on Democrats’ last proposal and doesn’t see a need to meet with President Donald Trump’s envoys until then.
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“I don’t see any reason to [meet] again. They know where we are,” Pelosi said. “If there’s a reason to have a meeting, let’s see what they have to say.”
Pelosi’s comments come one day after a nonpartisan think tank’s report estimated the government could reach the debt limit in the first half of September, weeks earlier than initially estimated. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also told congressional leaders as much during their last meeting in June.
But Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) , Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) left the June meeting deadlocked and talks between the party leaders have mostly languished since then.
That has Congress and the White House staring down a series of critical fiscal deadlines, possibly beginning with the debt ceiling in early September. In addition, lawmakers have to agree to fund the government by the end of September and raise budget caps or risk steep cuts for both domestic and defense spending early next year.
McConnell told Senate Republicans on Tuesday that he’d spoken to Mnuchin and that the Treasury secretary planned to call Pelosi to set up more talks ahead of the August recess, according to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Shelby asked McConnell if he was optimistic about success, and McConnell replied he was hopeful.
“There’s a lot of concern, by me and others up here, that here we are in July and we have no certainty to deal with appropriations to meet our Oct. 1 deadline. And then the debt ceiling is looming parallel to all of this,” Shelby said. “Serious conversation between the speaker and Treasury secretary of the administration could move us, or not move us, we’re always hoping something positive will come.”
A Pelosi spokesman said the speaker spoke with Mnuchin late Tuesday afternoon for about 20 minutes and agreed to speak again by phone on Wednesday.
McConnell later confirmed the talks with Mnuchin and declared that the U.S. won’t default on the debt, even as party leaders struggle to agree to a broader budget deal.
“We’re in close communication with Secretary Mnuchin about when that reaches a level that it must be dealt with. The speaker has said there will not be any question that we will raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell told reporters Tuesday.
“I don’t think there’s any chance we’ll allow the country to default. As to the timing, we’re going stay in close communications with the secretary of the treasury about when that actually must be done and we’ll no doubt do it on a bipartisan basis.”
Marianne LeVine contributed to this report.