Kevin McCarthy urges nervous Republicans to withhold judgment on debt ceiling deal

May 26, 2023
Matthew Boose

With his right flank telling him to "hold the line" on spending cuts, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) is urging jittery members of his Republican conference to withhold judgment as he approaches an agreement to raise the debt ceiling. 

The parties left Washington for the Memorial Day weekend with negotiations pending, but McCarthy said "progress" is being made.

Republicans who are worried about significant concessions being made haven't seen what's in the deal, McCarthy said.

"You're talking to people who don't know what's in the deal. So I'm not concerned about anybody making any comments right now about what they think is in or not in," McCarthy told reporters.

"Hold the line"

The Republican told journalists Friday that they're making his caucus worried with misleading reporting.

"Look, what's going through right now is, members don't know what's all in. You all report things that aren't really true in the process, so people get concerned."

After a bruising battle for the Speaker's gavel with his right flank, McCarthy took many by surprise by uniting his fractious caucus behind a debt limit deal in April, the Limit, Save, Grow Act.

But fractures are showing again. The House Freedom Caucus issued a veiling warning Wednesday that significant concessions to the Democrats would damage Republican unity.

“As you navigate the debt limit debate, you are the steward of this unity and will determine whether it continues to strengthen and places a historic stamp on this Congress or evaporates," they wrote.

McCarthy signals compromise

The House Freedom Caucus cited reports that Biden is pushing to water down the Limit, Save, Grow Act and "demanding a debt ceiling increase of $4 trillion or more."

Democrats are also worried that Biden is being too compromising on things like work requirements for welfare recipients, which both parties have described as a red line.

For weeks, Democrats have been forecasting economic doom unless Republicans agree to a "clean" deal with no strings attached. But McCarthy has insisted on spending cuts, saying the government needs to get on a more sustainable track.

Still, McCarthy hinted Republicans won't get everything they demanded in their April plan, which axed Biden's student loan relief plan and funding for thousands of new IRS agents.

"This is all positive stuff, but unfortunately, we've got to get a bill that can get through the Senate and signed by the President, and it's a lot of negotiation… but we're willing to do the work."

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