What to Know in Washington: D.C. Insiders Tackle Debt Talks

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Five Washington insiders are now tasked with cutting a deal to avert a debt default that otherwise could come as soon as June 1.

All have serious deal-making chops, none come from the extremes of their party, and most are well acquainted.

They got to work Tuesday evening, hours after President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) deputized them. The speaker offered a vote of confidence: “We have the right people in the room.”

Here’s what you need to know about the negotiators:

Photographer: Alex Wong/Getty Images
The U.S. Capitol on March 5, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

Steve Ricchetti

Few in the White House are as close to Biden as adviser Steve Ricchetti, the chair of Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign and chief of staff to Biden when he was vice president. He brings decades of experience in sensitive negotiations: He also was a deputy chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton and once was Clinton’s top liaison to the Senate.

Shalanda Young

White House Budget Director Shalanda Young has a long track record forging deals on federal spending in her current job and previously as a long-time staffer for the House Appropriations Committee. Her deep knowledge of the arcane details of appropriations is a critical advantage in talks centered on cutting government spending.

Louisa Terrell

A former aide to Biden when he served in the Senate, Louisa Terrell now leads the team of White House lobbyists who serve as the president’s eyes and ears on the Hill. Terrell helped steer Biden’s bipartisan winning streak on Capitol Hill in 2022, which included the infrastructure legislation, a major financial boost for the domestic semiconductor chip industry, a broad gun-safety measure, and a same-sex marriage bill.

Garret Graves

Rep. Garret Graves (R-La.) emerged from McCarthy’s January battle for the speakership as one of the Republican leader’s most trusted lieutenants. He helped broker the agreements that put McCarthy over the top. And he was the key architect of the House debt limit plan that pulled together the party’s warring factions behind a single package of spending cuts.

Dan Meyer

Dan Meyer is the only person to serve as chief of staff to two House speakers: Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) in the mid-1990s and now McCarthy. In between, Meyer was the top congressional liaison for President George W. Bush during the battles over financial crisis legislation in 2008. Later, he worked Congress for major insurers and drug companies as president of the powerhouse Washington lobbying firm Duberstein Group.

Erik Wasson and Laura Litvan have more details on these negotiators.

Treasury Cash Remains Below $100 Billion Amid Debt Standoff

The amount of funds the government has to pay its bills rebounded after falling to the lowest level in more than a month, though there’s still a risk it will run out of money by early next month if the debt limit isn’t raised or suspended before then.

  • New projected cash flows for the Treasury Department from the Bipartisan Policy Center show June 1 and 2 could present the biggest risk dates for a potential government default. Read more


  • The House meets this morning to vote on a resolution supporting local police.
  • Senators gather at 10 a.m. to consider a judicial nomination.


  • The president at 4:20 p.m. JST greets troops stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan.
  • Biden participates in a bilateral meeting at 6 p.m. JST with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio in Hiroshima, Japan.

Happening on the Hill

Biden Labor Nominee’s Full Senate Vote Shelved Until Late May

The Senate isn’t expected to vote on whether to confirm Labor nominee Julie Su until after Memorial Day, leaving her nomination in limbo for at least a few more weeks, said George Flynn, spokesperson for Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii).

Carper Permitting Plan Favors Climate, Transmission Projects

Today, Senate Democrats are proposing to accelerate federal permitting for transmission and climate resiliency efforts—but not fossil fuel projects.

  • Senators at a Wednesday hearing looked for ways to make federal permitting more efficient as pressure builds from congressional Republicans to use the issue as a bargaining chip in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. Read more

Regional, Partisan Fights Emerge as Congress Weighs Farm Bill

Geographic tugs-of-war will compound partisan challenges this year as Congress tries to move across the finish line a more than $1 trillion bill that governs food policy from nutrition aid to farm programs.

A.I. Companies Should Pay to License Work, Artists Tell Lawmakers

Artists are open to permitting A.I. companies to use their works to train A.I. programs that generate images, text, and sound, in exchange for paid licenses, they told a House subcommittee Wednesday.

Senators Urge Biden to Appoint Independent Banking Investigator

Banking Committee Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) say they have found flaws in regulators’ oversight reviews before some of the recent bank failures, and are asking Biden to appoint an independent investigator.

Politics & Probes

Biden Campaign Maps Out Expanded Battlefields for 2024 Race

Biden hopes to win reelection by defending his victories in 2020 battleground states — but also expanding the map into states like North Carolina and Florida that Democrats haven’t won since Barack Obama.

DeSantis Donors Called to Miami Speculate He’ll Launch 2024 Run

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is summoning financial backers for a meeting in Miami next week, raising speculation among donors he’ll announce his presidential bid then and formally challenge Donald Trump for the GOP nomination, according to people invited to the meeting.

  • Meanwhile, the Florida federal judge handling Disney’s lawsuit against DeSantis has ruled against him in previous high-profile cases, including last year blocking “anti-woke” restrictions on workplace diversity training and university instruction. Read more.

Santos Referred to Ethics Committee, Sidestepping Expulsion Vote

The House voted to put Rep. George Santos’s (R-N.Y.) fate in the hands of its Ethics Committee Wednesday, a maneuver that avoided an up-or-down vote on his expulsion that would have forced his Republican colleagues to publicly rebuke one of their own.

Thomas 2011 Ethics Complaints Not ‘Properly’ Handled, Judge Says

A federal judge who raised concerns more than a decade ago about how ethics complaints against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas were handled testified Wednesday in the Senate, sharing new details about the events, including Chief Justice John Roberts’s role.

  • Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden on Tuesday renewed his demand that GOP donor Harlan Crow provide a detailed account of expensive trips and gifts that he provided to Thomas. Read more.

What Else We’re Reading

China, Russia Are Top Problems for G-7 Leaders Meeting in Japan

Leaders of some of the world’s most advanced economies gather in the Japanese city of Hiroshima while facing a clutch of collective challenges.

China Military A.I. Use Raises Alarms

China’s embrace of A.I. for warfare has touched off alarm bells everywhere from Silicon Valley to the Pentagon.

Alleged Pentagon Leaker Seeks Bail

Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guardsman charged with the most serious leak of secret military information in a decade says he should be released on bail, arguing he’s no Edward Snowden.

Abortion Pill Hearing Judges Press FDA to Defend Drug Approvals

A tense appeals court hearing Wednesday over the FDA’s approval of the abortion pill forced the agency and mifepristone’s brand-name manufacturer to clarify confusion over the agency’s authority and regulatory processes.

To contact the reporters on this story: Michaela Ross in Washington at mross@bgov.com; Andrew Small at asmall@bgov.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kayla Sharpe at ksharpe@bloombergindustry.com

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