Biden Taps Two Negotiators to Reach Debt Ceiling Deal With Republicans

One of the biggest developments out of Tuesday’s debt ceiling meeting was President Biden’s selection of two officials to negotiate directly with aides to Speaker Kevin McCarthy: Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Steve Ricchetti, a White House senior adviser.

That decision appeared to mollify Mr. McCarthy, who noted after the meeting that “we finally have a formula that has proven to work in the past.”

Ms. Young and Mr. Ricchetti bring years of experience working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to forge deals on critical pieces of legislation. But they will still face a difficult task in trying to reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling ahead of a potential default as soon as June 1. They are expected to work closely with Louisa Terrell, the director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.

Here’s a look at the two key players who will represent Mr. Biden as policymakers work to avoid what many say would be an economically devastating default.

Shalanda Young

Ms. Young, a former senior aide on Capitol Hill, was confirmed by the Senate last year with a vote of 61 to 36 to oversee the Office of Management and Budget after serving as deputy budget director and acting director of the office. The agency oversees the federal budget and helps shape executive regulations.

Before joining the Biden administration, Ms. Young worked at the House Appropriations Committee for more than a decade, gaining credibility among members of both political parties.

Since joining the committee in 2007, she held various positions and eventually became the first Black woman to serve as its majority staff director in 2017. Ms. Young played a crucial role in shepherding trillions of dollars worth of pandemic relief packages and disaster aid into law, in addition to the annual negotiations over how to keep the government funded. In 2019, she helped negotiate an end to a spending fight that had led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history.

“My work on the Appropriations Committee taught me that both sides can compromise without compromising their values — even when that means no one gets everything they want,” Ms. Young told lawmakers in 2021.

Her work has earned her bipartisan praise in both the House and Senate. Former Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, who served as the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, endorsed Ms. Young to lead the budget office.

“She knows how to bring things together, and that’s what we as appropriators try to do,” Mr. Shelby said at the time.

Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, has also praised her work on Capitol Hill. “Everybody that deals with you on our side has nothing but good things to say,” Mr. Graham said in 2021.

Ms. Young previously worked at the National Institutes of Health and grew up in Clinton, La., earning degrees from Loyola University New Orleans and Tulane University.

Steve Ricchetti

Mr. Ricchetti, a former lobbyist who joined Mr. Biden’s vice-presidential staff in 2012, is one of Mr. Biden’s most trusted advisers and a longtime confidant. He has often acted as a conduit among Mr. Biden, congressional lawmakers and donors.

After serving as a counselor to the vice president, he later rose to become chief of staff. One of his early jobs in Washington was as a legislative aide for President Bill Clinton.

As a counselor to Mr. Biden now, Mr. Ricchetti has helped broker deals on legislative packages that have become major tenets of the president’s domestic policy agenda. Mr. Ricchetti was a key player in negotiations over the $1.2 trillion infrastructure law, which Congress passed in 2021 after Mr. Biden and a bipartisan group of centrist senators struck a deal.

Mr. Ricchetti also communicated with senators to help the Biden administration pass a climate, health and tax package last year, maintaining an open channel with Senator Joe Manchin III, the conservative West Virginia Democrat.

He helped set up the initial structure of Mr. Biden’s 2020 campaign, later serving as chairman. In that role, Mr. Ricchetti maintained deep relationships across Capitol Hill and in the donor community.

Mr. Ricchetti showed an aptitude for fund-raising in his career in Washington, previously lobbying for the pharmaceutical industry. He ran a lucrative firm before joining Mr. Biden’s staff, compiling a client list that included General Motors, Experian, the American Hospital Association, AT&T, Eli Lilly, Nextel, Novartis, Pfizer and Fannie Mae. Soon after Mr. Biden took office, Mr. Ricchetti’s brother drew scrutiny for his work as a lobbyist.

In addition to advising on Mr. Biden’s political decisions, Mr. Ricchetti has reportedly overseen many of the president’s personal and financial decisions. He served as Mr. Biden’s business manager and negotiated his seven-figure book deal.

A Cleveland-area native, he earned a law degree from George Mason University.

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