Ongoing negotiations between the White House and Congressional Republicans regarding the debt ceiling have reached a critical stage following a stern warning from the Fitch credit rating agency. The urgency has intensified as the United States faces the looming threat of a debt default, with a mere seven days remaining.
Fitch Ratings, one of the leading credit rating agencies, made a significant announcement late Wednesday, placing the United States triple-A status on “rating watch negative.”
Fitch stated, “The brinkmanship surrounding the debt ceiling, along with the failure of U.S. authorities to effectively address medium-term fiscal challenges that will result in mounting budget deficits and an increasing debt burden, indicate potential risks to the creditworthiness of the United States.” This statement underlined the rationale behind their decision.
The agency also strongly implied that if Congress fails to reach a deal before the Treasury Department’s June 1 deadline to raise or suspend the debt limit, Fitch will likely downgrade America’s credit rating. Such a failure “would signify a negative indication of the broader governance and commitment of the US to fulfill its obligations in a timely manner, which would be inconsistent with a ‘AAA’ rating, according to Fitch’s perspective.”
This warning emerged only hours after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy attempted to assuage concerns in the volatile financial markets. On Wednesday, the California Republican stated on Fox Business, “I would not instill fear in the markets in any way, shape, or form. We will come to an agreement… and there should be no cause for alarm.”
However, negotiators have made limited discernible progress after more than a week of almost continuous discussions. The decision by House leadership to send members on a weeklong recess, albeit with instructions to remain prepared to return to Washington, D.C., if their votes are required to pass a compromise bill, further added to the concerns surrounding the impending deadline.
“I am uncertain if we will reach a deal today,” McCarthy expressed on Thursday morning as he entered the Capitol. He further stated, “We have already communicated with the White House today, and we will continue to work… They are crunching the numbers, we are crunching the numbers, and we will collaborate.”
Nonetheless, another Republican negotiator expressed optimism about reaching a deal before the upcoming holiday weekend. Representative Kevin Hern of Oklahoma told Reuters that he believes it is “likely” a deal will be reached by Friday afternoon.
He remarked, “We are making gradual progress. I believe they are currently ironing out some of the finer details. You can expect to see a deal by tomorrow afternoon.”
Featured Image: Freepik @ Who is Danny