Republican congressional officials said Thursday they were making progress toward a deal with President Biden to raise the debt ceiling while curbing spending, warning that a still-pushing deal would inevitably disappoint lawmakers in both parties.
Spokesman Kevin McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol that negotiators worked “well past midnight” and resumed negotiations later Thursday morning, trying to find a solution to avert a default on the national debt ahead of a scheduled June 1 deadline. He said there were still “unresolved issues” and that he had ordered his negotiators to work “24/7” until an agreement was reached.
“I don’t think everybody’s going to be happy at the end of the day,” Mr. McCarthy said, nodding to growing concerns among some hard-right Republicans that their party is making too many concessions in the talks. “That’s not how this system works.
Democrats also grew concerned that Mr. Biden would go too far in accepting Republican demands, including spending cuts and tougher work requirements for public welfare programs. At noon they huddled in the Capitol to discuss the state of affairs.
Lawmakers were set to leave Washington later Thursday for the Memorial Day holiday, but talks were expected to continue into the weekend and members of Congress were urged to return and vote if a deal was reached.
Representative Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, one of Mr. McCarthy’s key negotiators, said there were still “burning issues” that still needed to be resolved, chief among them the spending caps, an issue he acknowledged was for Democrats ” a hard thing’ to accept.
“We have legislative work ahead of us, political work ahead of us,” Mr. McHenry said. “The details of all those things are really important to being able to get this thing through.”
“We don’t have an agreement yet, so I don’t think we’ll know exactly what the coalition will look like to pass it,” said Rep. Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, the top official. McCarthy’s ally. “But listen, Kevin McCarthy understands how conservative his conference is. He will make a deal that will be accepted by the overwhelming majority of his conference.”
As negotiators moved closer to a deal, hard-right Republicans openly voiced concerns that Mr. McCarthy would sign a compromise they saw as insufficiently conservative. Several right-wing Republicans have already vowed to oppose any compromise that backs away from the cuts that were part of their debt ceiling bill, which would reduce domestic spending by an average of 18 percent over a decade.
“Republicans should not make a bad deal,” Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, an influential conservative, tweeted shortly after telling a local radio station that he “will have to go have some blunt conversations with my colleagues and leadership. team” because he didn’t like “the direction they were going”.
Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina said he would reserve judgment on how he would vote on the compromise until he saw the bill, but added, “What I’ve seen right now is not good.”
Former President Donald J. Trump, who said Republicans should force bankruptcy if they don’t get what they want in negotiations. McCarthy told reporters that he spoke briefly with Mr. Trump about the negotiations — “It only happened for a second,” the spokesman said. “He talked about, ‘Make sure you get a good deal.’
After hitting a tee shot at his golf course outside Washington, Mr. Trump approached a reporter for The New York Times, iPhone in hand, and showed him a phone call with Mr. McCarthy.
“It’s going to be an interesting thing — it’s not going to be easy,” said Mr. Trump, who described his call with the speaker as “a small, quick conversation.”
“They’ve spent three years spending money on nonsense,” he added, saying, “Republicans don’t want to see that, so I understand where they are.”
Luke Broadwater and Stephanie Lai contributed reporting from Washington and Alan Blinder of Sterling, Va.