House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said his team and the White House made progress last night on a debt ceiling deal and hope to make more today to avert a potential default.
“I thought we made progress last night. We got to make more progress now,” he said. “I’m gonna work as hard as we can to try to get this done, get more progress today and finish the job. I’m a total optimist.”
Asked if a deal could come together today, McCarthy emphasized that negotiators are working as hard as they can, recognizing time is of the essence.
“We know it’s a crunch time. We know it’s not easy, but we’re going to make sure we’re not just trying to get an agreement. We’re trying to get something that’s worthy of the American people that changes the trajectory,” said McCarthy. “So we’re going to work just as hard; we worked through the night last night. I thought we made progress yesterday. I want to make progress again today, and I want to be able to solve this problem.”
McCarthy dismissed the level of concern from some conservatives who’ve assailed the compromise being worked on.
“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,” he said. “Whenever we come to an agreement, we’ll make sure we will first brief our entire conference. So when you go and ask them questions, at least let them know what’s in it before you’re trying to get an answer.”
Pressed if Republicans will still insist on work requirements, he said they are similar to what Biden has backed in the past. He wouldn’t detail the contours or specifics of that fight.
“I’m not gonna negotiate it with you. We’re working in good faith. Who the president has appointed to work on this, they’re very professional, very knowledgeable, a lot of respect on both sides, but at times, we have philosophical differences of opinion and they have to reflect the president’s opinion,” said McCarthy. “The president has, as you’ve seen before, and Democrats here, they have changed their position to where Democrats were in the past, when Sen. Biden, he voted for work requirements.”
He noted that he hasn’t spoken directly with Biden in the last 24 hours but emphasized that their teams are in constant contact.
What a key negotiator says: In a markedly different tone than McCarthy, Rep. Garret Graves warned that they have not made any progress after he left the speaker’s office at 7:30 p.m. ET last night.
He said last night he worked with the team for a while and commented on the food they ate. He did not elaborate further on specifics, including work requirements.
McCarthy also said he met with Graves by bike this morning to talk more about the state of the talks.