Former House Speaker John Boehner praises McCarthy’s handling of debt ceiling

John Boehner on the debt ceiling deal

Former House Speaker John Boehner on the debt ceiling deal


A months-long standoff between congressional Republicans and the White House appears to be nearing an end with the House passage of a bill to raise the debt ceiling late Wednesday. The deal, a compromise to shrink federal spending and avoid default, was forged by President Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, and the speaker’s handling of the negotiation is drawing praise from one of his predecessors.

“I thought he did a very good job,” former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in an interview for “The Takeout.” 

Boehner served as speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015 and used a similar tactic in 2011 to negotiate federal spending cuts with then-President Barack Obama. At that time, Boehner presided over a Republican majority, while the Senate was controlled by Democrats.

“When you don’t have many tools or levers available, you have to use what is available and the debt limit is available,” Boehner said. “I had no choice but to use the one lever available to try to move the country in a direction that I wanted it to move in — more fiscal responsibility.” 

Before 2011, Congress had raised the nation’s borrowing limit without rancorous partisan debate.

Boehner said he wasn’t surprised negotiators reached an agreement before the June 5 deadline. 

“There wasn’t any doubt. Because McCarthy — everybody understands that you can’t violate the debt limit. They weren’t going to do that. So, they got themselves a deal. Good.”

In passing the debt limit measure with a bipartisan majority, McCarthy overcame dissent from the most conservative flank of his Republican conference “House Republicans passing their bill really does strengthen McCarthy’s hand,” Boehner said, adding that he does not believe hardline conservatives will attempt to oust the speaker.

“He’s done a nice job, done a really nice job,” Boehner said of McCarthy.

More of Major Garrett’s interview with John Boehner will be available on The Takeout’s podcast feed June 9, or stream it on on June 11 at 5 p.m.

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