President Barack Obama, not Vice President Joe Biden, will have to cement a final deal that would raise the United States' borrowing authority, a leading Republican said Monday.
Representative Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said that White House-led budget talks chaired by Biden, set to resume Tuesday, will only lay the groundwork for a deal.
"Ultimately decisions are going to be made between the Speaker, the President and those in the Senate," said Cantor, a participant in the talks. "We are engaging in these discussions right now in the Biden commission to really understand where both sides are."
A $14.3 trillion limit on U.S. government borrowing has been hit and Republicans and some Democrats are refusing to raise the credit limit until deep spending cuts are made.
The scenario Cantor laid out is identical to how a dramatic White House-Congress budget deal for this year averted a government shutdown in mid-April.
In those efforts, Obama first appointed Biden to lead negotiations with members of Congress. As their talks evolved, Obama stepped in and undertook intensive negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
The current Biden group, which includes four Democratic lawmakers along with Cantor and Republican Senator Jon Kyl, will be meeting for the third time.
'June 8 would be pressing it'
The group has so far agreed on roughly $150 billion in proposed spending cuts — far short of the trillions of dollars in savings that Boehner has said will be necessary to win Republican support for raising the debt limit.
A top congressional Democrat Monday said that political leaders in Washington should wrap up negotiations by June 8 to avoid spooking financial markets.
"If we're going to have to do it, my view is doing it sooner rather than later roils the markets less," Steny Hoyer, the No. 2 House Democrat, said in a speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank.
Later, in a telephone interview with Reuters, Hoyer explained that his suggested June 8 deadline was derived from the Treasury Department's initial July 8 estimate for when the government had to raise the debt limit.
The July 8 deadline was subsequently moved back to Aug. 2, as revenues being collected by Treasury were more robust than initially projected.
The debt limit debate so far has not had an impact in bond markets as investors continue to view U.S. debt as a safe haven.
Many Washington observers expect that Biden and other negotiators in the White House-led talks will work right up to the Aug. 2 deadline. Some Republicans have suggested that markets would not necessarily be upset if they blow past it.
One participant in the Biden talks said Hoyer's proposed deadline was unrealistic.
"I think June 8 would be pressing it," Republican Senator Jon Kyl told reporters. "Knowing where we are in our conversation with Vice President Biden, I don't think it'd be very easy to get there."