“I feel closer to an agreement now than I did a long time before because I see progress,” McCarthy told reporters on Saturday. “I don't give up. It doesn't matter how many times it takes; you want to make sure you get a deal worthy of the American people.”
McCarthy arrived at the Capitol around 10:30 a.m. to continue talks with Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who returned early Saturday after working until roughly 2:30 a.m. to iron out the final details of the debt ceiling deal. It remains unclear how close officials are to shaking hands on an agreement, but it’s likely negotiators will aim to release legislative text before they leave for the day.
McHenry said a few sticking points remain standing in the way of a final deal, but negotiators have come to a “narrow set” of disagreements as of Saturday morning. However, McHenry said he didn’t know when a final deal could be met, noting it could be “hours or days.”
“These are tough things, and this is not how I anticipated the final hours, days would go,” McHenry said.
The time crunch comes as the House broke for recess on Thursday afternoon for the holiday weekend, with some Democrats grumbling that lawmakers should stay in Washington. McCarthy remained in Washington to continue negotiations, as did Graves and McHenry.
The clock is ticking for negotiators to reach a deal before the so-called “X-date” on June 5, which is the day the country is expected to no longer be able to pay off its debts. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen updated the deadline from her initial projection of June 1, buying Republicans and the White House four extra days to finalize an agreement and get a bill passed through Congress before a possible default.
Negotiators are hoping to finalize a deal and get legislative text released as soon as possible, after which the bill must be available for review for at least 72 hours before being considered for a vote under House rules. McCarthy remained adamant that members would have 72 hours to review the text, noting the bill would not be released publicly until all members could be briefed on its contents. However, he noted he wants to have a vote as soon as Tuesday evening — meaning a deal could be made as early as Saturday.
After that, the legislation will be passed to the Senate, where it could take a few days before it’s passed and sent to Biden’s desk for his signature.
The last-minute time crunch comes as the House broke for recess on Thursday afternoon for the holiday weekend, with some Democrats grumbling that lawmakers should stay in Washington until a deal is made. McCarthy said he would remain in Washington for the weekend to continue working on a deal.