McCarthy seizes the initiative, emerges as GOP’s “uniter” during debt battle

The Speaker has flouted public perception, growing his stock while bringing the entirety of the Republican Party together.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) managed to strengthen his hand, as a deft public relations strategy on the debt ceiling negotiations has firmly put him in the driver’s seat in Washington.

McCarthy has united his far-flung conference to pass a bill that paired a debt limit increase with spending cuts and other GOP priorities forcing President Joe Biden backed away from his no-negotiations stance and invited McCarthy and other congressional leaders to meet.


The big picture: McCarthy is holding frequent press conferences, gaggles, and TV interviews to advocate for spending cuts and policy reforms as a condition of raising the debt limit.

  • Public opinion surveys have shown that Democratic attacks on Republicans for holding the economy “hostage” are struggling to sway the electorate in their favor.
  • It remains unclear whether McCarthy will be able to secure a compromise that appeases the right flank of his conference.
  • Political observers note that it takes just one GOP member to call a motion to vacate the chair and force a vote on ousting the Speaker.
  • The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Thursday threw another wrinkle in the mix when it called for “no further discussion” on the debt ceiling, pressuring the Senate to pass the House GOP bill.
  • Several Democrats suggest Biden could test a 14th Amendment strategy to raise the debt limit unilaterally without the help of Congress.

What they’re saying: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has thrown his full support behind the Speaker to negotiate a deal.

  • Former President Trump has weighed in on the negotiations, stating that “REPUBLICANS SHOULD NOT MAKE A DEAL ON THE DEBT CEILING UNLESS THEY GET EVERYTHING THEY WANT (Including the “kitchen sink”).”
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