Shalanda Young Emerges as Quietly Essential Figure in Debt Deal That Averted a Catastrophic Default
The day before President Biden traveled to Japan this month, he managed a breakthrough with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the Oval Office.
The two had spent weeks trying to reach a deal to lift the debt ceiling and avert a potential financial catastrophe, but they had made little progress. Then Biden told McCarthy (R-Calif.) he was delegating two of his top aides to serve as the lead negotiators with House Republicans: Steve Ricchetti, a counselor to the president, and Shalanda Young, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
McCarthy immediately turned around to look at Young, who was nearby, and complimented her as “well respected” and “well liked” on both sides of the aisle, according to people familiar with his comments who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.
As McCarthy left the White House, he signaled a renewed optimism about the talks, telling reporters that he thought it was “possible to get a deal by the end of the week” even as he emphasized that no substantive issues had been resolved. “What has changed in this meeting is the president changed the scope of who’s all negotiating,” McCarthy said.
Over the next 1½ weeks, Young, Ricchetti and other White House officials spent most days shuttling between the Capitol and the White House as they brokered a deal with House Republicans that culminated in Biden and McCarthy announcing over the weekend they had reached an “agreement in principle” to raise the debt ceiling and cap federal spending — just days before the government could have defaulted for the first time ever.