President Joe Biden remains optimistic, declaring Wednesday he is confident the country will avoid a potentially catastrophic and unprecedented debt default. He departed for a G-7 summit in Japan but said he plans to return by the weekend, hoping to approve a solid agreement. He said talks with congressional GOP members have been productive.
The president’s positive remarks come as a group of negotiators starts meeting to craft the final budget spending deal and open a path for raising the debt limit as soon as June 1. That is when the Treasury Department says the United States could start defaulting on payments and create financial chaos.
“I’m confident that we’ll get the agreement on the budget, and America will not default, said Biden from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Later in the evening Wednesday, negotiations restarted behind closed doors at the Capitol.
Republican Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and Democrat Biden have blamed each other for the impasse on the debt ceiling for weeks. However, the president said of the latest White House session, including congressional leaders, that “everyone came to the meeting, I think, in good faith.”
Speaker McCarthy was also upbeat, although he contended President Biden had given ground. Although the president maintains budget talks are separate from the debt limit, the speaker said Biden had “finally backed off” his initial refusal to negotiate.
“Keep working — we’ll work again tonight,” said McCarthy to reporters. “We’re going to work until we can get it done.”
President Biden said every leader at the Oval Office meeting on Tuesday — Democrat House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Democrat Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York — agreed the United States couldn’t default on its obligations.
“It would be catastrophic for the American economy and the American people if we didn’t pay our bills,” said Biden. “I’m confident everyone in the room agreed…that we’re going to come together because there’s no alternative. We have to do the right thing for the country. We have to move on.”
President said he would be in “constant contact” with White House officials while at the summit in Hiroshima. He canceled stops in Papua New Guinea and Australia following the Japan visit to return to Washington Sunday.
McCarthy and Biden assigned a handful of representatives to work quickly to try and finish the final deal. They include legislative director Louisa Terrell; Steve Ricchetti, counselor to the president; GOP Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana, a close McCarthy ally and Shalanda Young, Office of Management and Budget Director.
Speaker McCarthy said he would remain personally involved in negotiations
Speaker McCarthy said he would personally be involved and planned to stop by the talks later on Wednesday. He said he planned to stay in Washington for the weekend during the ongoing negotiations.
Any agreement reached by the negotiators would still need the deal approved by the Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate.
Democrats are concerned over the possibility of new work requirements for specific recipients of government aid, while Republicans want more rigid budget restraints than are supported by the Democrats.
The positive comments by McCarthy and Biden suggest they believe they
can gain the support of the lawmakers in their parties.
The national debt is currently at $31.4 trillion. A debt limit increase wouldn’t authorize new federal spending but only allow for borrowing to pay for things already approved by Congress.