Who's who in the debt limit fight: Meet the four negotiators who could save the US from default

Who's who in the debt limit fight: Meet the four negotiators who could save the US from default

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FILE – House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of Calif. (left) talks with White House Director of Legislative Affairs Louisa Terrell (right), before the start of a White House event in the Rose Garden in Washington on July 26, 2021. McCarthy and President Joe Biden are turning to an elite group of negotiators in order to broker a deal that will increase the country's borrowing power.

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FILE – Office of Management and Budget director Shalanda young testifies at the House Appropriations Committee on Budget and Oversight Hearing on Capitol Hill on March 23, 2023 in Washington. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden are asking a group of select negotiators for help in brokering a deal that will increase the country's borrowing power. Biden's representatives are Steve Ricchetti (presidential counselor), Louisa Terrell (legislative director) and Shalanda young.

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FILE – Steve Ricchetti (counselor to the president) leaves a bipartisan meeting on Capitol Hill, Washington, in June 2021. President Joe Biden, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a small group of negotiators are working to broker an agreement to increase the borrowing authority for the United States. Biden's representatives are Steve Ricchetti (presidential counselor), Louisa Terrell, legislative director, and Shalanda young, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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FILE – Rep. Garret Garret Graves (R-La. ), left, speaks at the Capitol Hill in Washington on May 18, 2022. Graves was named to represent Republicans during negotiations with the White House over the debt ceiling.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) - President Joe Biden of the United States and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have turned to a group of select negotiators in order to work out a plan to increase the country's borrowing power and to avoid the economic chaos that could result if the U.S. defaulted on its debts.

Negotiators are racing against a June 1 deadline. Treasury Department estimates that the government will default on its debts in June for the first ever time. While White House and congressional staff have been meeting daily, some people are concerned that the number of people present is too high.

Here are the 'closers,' those Biden and McCarthy appointed to close a deal:

REP. GARRET GRAVES, Louisiana Republican

Graves is currently serving his fifth term as a representative of a congressional district which includes Baton Rouge. He won this seat with over 80% in the November election. He entertained the thought of running for Governor in Louisiana, but decided to opt out in March.

Graves, McCarthy's ally who was working to convince Republican holdouts to join his campaign to become the House Speaker of the House, was often seen visiting them.

Dusty Johnson is the chair of a group known as the Republican Main Street Caucus. He describes Graves's role in meetings as one of a facilitator who calms down tensions. Johnson's group is one of the five caucuses that make up the House GOP Conference, also known as the "five families."

McCarthy stated on Wednesday that "he's been the person who has really helped bring people together when crafting the bill." McCarthy said on Wednesday that he had a good understanding of the members' positions.

McCarthy said: "He knows policy." He is often referred to as a policy expert.

Graves was the chair of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana before joining Congress. This authority led efforts to protect Louisiana from future hurricanes by improving flood control and restoring wetlands. He worked as a staffer in Congress for more than 10 years, initially as an intern with Louisiana Senator John Breaux, and later as an assistant to Rep. Billy Tauzin. He has also served as a committee assistant to members of both chambers.

STEVE RICCHETTI is the counselor to President

Ricchetti was one of Biden’s most trusted and closest advisers. He served as one of Biden’s top aides when he was vice president, and is now at the White House. Ricchetti was a trusted adviser in the Biden administration. He has been able to negotiate a deal that is bipartisan, such as a comprehensive infrastructure bill. This was one of Biden's biggest achievements.

Ricchetti was asked by Biden to reach an agreement with the then-Sen. Rob Portman, from Ohio, led the talks for GOP senators. The two Ohioans, along with Washington veterans who had been in the business for many years, finalized an infrastructure deal that would pass both the House and Senate by wide margins. Biden will sign the bill into law in November 2021.

Biden, during the months-long negotiations on infrastructure, praised his Cabinet officials and senior aides for their'skillful negotiating' -- a group that was led Ricchetti.

Ricchetti's relationships with key Republicans on Capitol Hill, especially, are vital to Biden’s reputation as a bipartisan dealmaker. Some on the left have criticized the former lobbyist for his ties to K Street and the lobbying done by his brother Jeff.

Ricchetti was a senior official in the Clinton White House and served as an occasional golfing partner of Biden.

LOUISA TERRELL is the director of White House Office of Legislative Affairs

Terrell is a regular on Capitol Hill. He has served as the point of contact for legislators, under a President who was a creature from the Senate that came to the executive.

She was Biden's deputy in the Senate, and also served as President Barack Obama's special assistant on legislative affairs. She also served as chief of staff for Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who was Biden's opponent in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.

Terrell told CNN in an interview last year that, at the age of 5, she met Beau Biden in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of the future president. Beau Biden died of glioblastoma in 2015.

Terrell stated in an interview with CNN that he wanted to "represent what the President wants you to do". There's also the question, 'What would Beau do?' These things are interconnected and part of what drives us to do our work.

Terrell was also the head of the Biden foundation at its launch in 2017. The organization was created to allow the former vice president to continue promoting his top priorities, such as cancer research or support for military families. Terrell worked for Facebook, which is now Meta.

SHALANDA YOUNG, Director of the Office of Management and Budget

Young, an experienced congressional staffer who has built strong relationships with both parties, enters the fight over the debt limit armed with his years of experience in negotiating the finer details of federal spending.

Young, who was on the front line of discussions over funding bills each year and efforts to avoid government shutdowns before her current job, served as the staff director for the House Appropriations Committee. She is well-respected by Democrats and Republicans. As Biden's top person for federal funding, she has carried these relationships to the executive branch.

She was originally selected for the OMB deputy director post, but she was elevated to the top position after Biden's original pick, Neera Tarden, resigned when it became apparent that she wouldn't have enough support to be confirmed by the Senate. (Tanden later became White House staff secretary and Biden announced that she would lead the White House Domestic Policy Council earlier this month.)

After the withdrawal of Young's nomination, three of the top House Democrats of the time, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from California, Majority leader Steny Hoyer from Maryland, and Majority whip James Clyburn from South Carolina, urged Biden, an unusually public recommendation by House leaders.

Young is the OMB's first Black female leader. Biden, who nominated Young, said that she had 'continued' to impress him and Congress leaders,' after serving as OMB's acting director during much of 2021.

Young, in addition to her historic role, also interacts and works with the four women who lead the two congressional budget committees. The four women who lead the House and Senate Appropriations Committees for the first time are a historic event.

Young told the Associated Press that her relationship with leaders of the Appropriations Committee was not a new one. "I became the person I am because of the committee they now lead. That's a very special relationship.