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:
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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