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‘I Don’t Know,’ McCarthy Says About Timing of Debt Ceiling Deal



House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he isn’t certain a deal on the nation’s debt ceiling will be made Thursday as negotiations between Republican and Democrat lawmakers continue.

“I don’t know if we’ll have a deal today,” McCarthy, R-Calif., said when asked during an appearance on Fox News Channel about the progress of talks with President Joe Biden and the Democrats. “We worked well past midnight last night. We did make progress yesterday, but we still have a number of items that need to get through.”

“The most important thing here is to get an agreement worthy of the American public. Remember why we’re here,” the speaker said, noting that Republicans only regained control of the House in January, following the November midterm elections.

“We have the most money at any time, if you even take it to GDP [gross domestic product] coming into the government,” McCarthy said. “But we’re spending more than we’ve ever spent in history since the Democrats took the majority, and we have the most debt that we have ever had.”

Richard Stern, director of the Grover M. Hermann Center for the Federal Budget at The Heritage Foundation, weighed in on the ongoing debt ceiling negotiations. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

“McCarthy is doing the right thing by championing the effort to work out a deal that would save our economy and prevent the government from stealing more from hardworking Americans,” Stern told The Daily Signal in an email. “Biden’s obsession with saving the woke and weaponized federal bureaucracy is a clear indicator of his willingness to throw the economy into chaos to further his ideological agenda.”

“The American people are counting on McCarthy and congressional conservatives to keep their resolve and stop the D.C. cartel,” Stern added.

In his Fox interview, McCarthy noted that the House passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023, which aims to “limit federal spending, save taxpayer dollars,” and “grow the economy” in April.  The speaker also noted his Feb. 1 meeting with Biden and said that after that, the president “wouldn’t talk to me for 97 days.”

Lawmakers face a June 1 deadline to decide how the government will meet its obligations by raising the debt limit, but Republicans want action to rein in federal spending as part of the deal.

“And so, we’ve got a short time frame that we’re trying to get this done, but unfortunately, every Democrat in the House voted against raising the debt limit,” McCarthy said. “But Republicans have a bill that raised the debt limit [and] put us on an economically stronger path to curb inflation. It’s sitting over in the Senate.”

Fox News’ Bill Hemmer followed up by asking McCarthy whether a deal on the debt ceiling today “is possible” or he is “taking it off the table.”

“Any day is possible. I mean, it’s very difficult for the Democrats to agree not to spend more next year than they spent this year,” McCarthy said. “They’ve increased spending so drastically, to try to change that course is very difficult.”

The speaker added:

Think about where we’re looking: To spend less this year than we spent the year before, to put work requirements in that help people get jobs, to cap what government continues to grow at, at 1% in the future, to get some permitting reform so we can build things in America, cutting the red tape. These are really reasonable, responsible items that will make America stronger.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., told lawmakers Wednesday that they may leave the nation’s capital Thursday for their scheduled Memorial Day recess, The Hill reported.

“Following tomorrow’s votes, if some new agreement is reached between President Biden and Speaker McCarthy, members will receive 24 hours’ notice in the event we need to return to Washington for any additional votes either over the weekend or next week,” Scalise said on the House floor.