House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, while taking a victory lap Wednesday night after the Republican-controlled House's overwhelming vote to approve a bill to suspend the nation's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling until 2025, said that "history will write this is the largest cut in American history."
"It's not even close," McCarthy told Newsmax's Kilmeny Duchardt during a press conference after the Republican-controlled House voted 314-117 for the bill, reached as a compromise measure between McCarthy and President Joe Biden earlier this week.
He also acknowledged to Duchardt that there was more he could have done differently to swing House conservatives to approve the measure.
Some members of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus this week have said they support a vote of no confidence against McCarthy, which would remove him from his seat with a simple majority vote, while others, like former Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., are accusing him of siding with the White House and Democrats on the debt ceiling fight, reports NBC News.
"His new coalition is with the Democrats," Biggs, who was one of the lawmakers who fought against electing McCarthy as speaker earlier this year, said Wednesday.
"Look, every day I could wake up and improve," McCarthy told Duchardt. "There's so many times I stumble as we go. It's difficult in a time of negotiations to keep your full conference abreast, because as we do, you all leak it. You can't negotiate once you leak, so something blows something else up."
He further told her that in any measure, "we're never going to get everybody."
But, McCarthy said, "we have spent four months bringing everybody together and whether you voted for it or voted against it, you wanted something more."
When it comes to voting on a bill, he continued, "I can only look at what's on the bill. If I'm going to say this doesn't have something I want, I'd vote no against every bill."
There were also several people who voted against the bill who have voted for raising debt ceilings in the past, said McCarthy.
"Maybe I could have explained it better," he said. "Maybe I could have been a little out front, but I'll improve each day. It wasn't an easy task. The president [was] not willing to meet with us. So there's probably a lot of different things we can do better."
McCarthy also said Wednesday that he's been thinking about the debt ceiling issue even before he was elected as House speaker because he knew the matter was looming, reports NBC News.
"I wanted to make history," the California Republican said during the press conference. "I wanted to do something no other Congress has done — that we would literally turn the ship, that for the first time, in quite some time, we'd spend less than we spent the year before."
McCarthy Wednesday also poked back at members of the media who have speculated he could not stop the debt default or whether his enemies would force him out of office.
"What are you going to do now when I walk out of my office?" he said. "Are you still going to be there … I might miss you one day but remember this — I'll still look forward to when you come back and you still ask the same questions each week. 'Do you think you can pass the bill this week? Do you think you'll still be the Speaker next week?' Keep underestimating us and we'll keep proving to the American public that we're never giving up on you."
Meanwhile, 71 Republicans, or about a third of the GOP caucus, voted against the bill, most saying the spending cuts were not enough and that the deal was a victory for Biden.
Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., however, argued Wednesday that McCarthy's critics are doubting him at their own risk.
Duchardt said McHenry had told her that those who didn't vote for the bill didn't understand it.
The congressman also told reporters that McCarthy has been "underestimated for damn sure."
"Kevin McCarthy has always been underestimated," said McHenry at a news briefing with the other GOP negotiator for the debt ceiling bill, Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana.
"The White House miscalculated on this one," said Graves. "They misjudged the speaker. He is hands down the best strategist I've ever worked with."
The bill will now move to the Senate and is expected to land on Biden's desk for a signature before Monday, the date Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has given as a deadline for when the debt ceiling would need to be raised to avoid a default, and Biden has urged the Democrat-controlled Senate to pass the measure quickly.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has hinted that a vote could come as early as Thursday, but it's more likely to be on the floor Friday, reports Axios.
Sandy Fitzgerald ✉
Sandy Fitzgerald has more than three decades in journalism and serves as a general assignment writer for Newsmax covering news, media, and politics.
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