Discontent Grows on the Fringes Over Potential Debt Deal

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy conducts a news conference at the U.S. Capitol on the debt-ceiling crisis with House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Far-right Republicans and progressive Democrats are separately growing anxious about a potential debt ceiling deal between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and President Joe Biden.

Frustration on the fringes is an almost inevitable phase of any genuinely bipartisan talks in Congress, and it could mean a deal is imminent—but the pushback presents new hurdles for party leaders as they face a default deadline as soon as June 1. To pass a deal, the Biden administration may have to prevent a revolt among Democrats over any concessions they make to Republicans. And if GOP leaders can’t placate their own members, dissent within the conference could threaten McCarthy’s leadership position and throw the House into chaos.

Staff and officials spent the week hammering out the details of a plan, aiming to complete a deal this weekend. McCarthy on Thursday made his most optimistic remarks yet about the odds of reaching an agreement, a sharp turn from his assessment earlier this week that the two sides were far apart.

“I see the path,” McCarthy told reporters of a potential deal, adding that the talks were professional and everyone involved was working hard.

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