House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday made an effort to address concerns among investors that a divided Washington won’t be able to make a deal on a debt-ceiling increase and thereby avoid a market-shaking default.
“We are working night and day. I would not, if I was in the markets, be afraid of anything in this process,” the California Republican said during a Fox Business interview after the market’s close.
“I wouldn’t scare the markets in any shape or form. We will come to an agreement.”
McCarthy hasn’t been an active buyer and seller of individual stocks, according to an analysis of disclosures by CapitolTrades.com, which shows no trades by the speaker in the past three years.
From MarketWatch’s archives (January 2022): U.S. lawmakers traded an estimated $355 million of stock in 2021. These were the biggest buyers and sellers.
McCarthy’s comments about markets stand in contrast with what Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said earlier in the day, as she said that “even in the run-up to an agreement, when one does occur, there can be substantial financial-market distress.”
closed lower Wednesday as concerns about the debt-ceiling standoff appeared to spur selling.
In the Fox Business interview on Wednesday, McCarthy continued to sound somewhat upbeat on the ongoing talks between Republicans and Democrats over government spending and raising the ceiling for federal borrowing.
“We are in the room right now negotiating,” the speaker said. “I think things are going a little better, but you know the challenge here. Democrats continue to want to spend more.”
He appeared to push back against some of his fellow Republicans who have expressed skepticism about Yellen’s debt-ceiling deadline of June 1.
“Whoever is the secretary of the Treasury, I’m going to take whatever date they say,” he said. “There’s probably leeway that they can get there, but if she says that’s the date, that’s the date I’ve been working on.”
McCarthy also indicated that as Memorial Day weekend nears, House lawmakers who might like to travel will need to be prepared to return to Washington to vote on the debt limit.
“Members are going to have to be able to stay close to be able to come back,” he said.
Top House Democrats reiterated their criticisms of McCarthy and his GOP colleagues on Wednesday as the debt-ceiling standoff persisted.
“House Republicans are determined to crash the economy because they believe it will benefit them politically,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies, a New York Democrat, said during a news conference. “That is the only explanation for their extreme and inherently unreasonable behavior.”