Reps. Garret Graves (R-LA) and Patrick McHenry (R-NC), the top negotiators for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, returned to the Capitol after working until roughly 2:30 a.m. to iron out final details on the debt ceiling deal. Officials are aiming to get a proposal finalized as early as Saturday afternoon. It remains unclear how close negotiators may be on coming to an agreement, but lawmakers say only a “narrow set” of disagreements remain.
“These are tough things, and this is not how I anticipated the final hours, days would go,” McHenry said. “We've had a long list for a long time. What I didn't anticipate is we'd have a very short list for a very long time.”
However, McHenry said he didn’t know when a final deal could come, noting it could be “hours or days.”
The time crunch comes as the House broke for recess on Thursday afternoon for the holiday weekend. Some Democrats grumbled 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. Once the text is posted, the clock will begin ticking, meaning a vote could conceivably take place as early as Tuesday evening if a deal is made on 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.