Biden, top Republican say confident debt default will be averted | Business and Economy News


Experts say a default would be catastrophic for US economy, but political standoff has persisted as deadline looms.

United States President Joe Biden and the Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives have both said they were optimistic the country would avert a potentially catastrophic default on its debt commitments, even as negotiations remain ongoing.

Both Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy said on Wednesday that they would push ahead on talks to raise the country’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, which has been the subject of a months-long standoff. A deal would need to be struck before the government runs out of money to pay its bills, something the US Treasury has said could happen as soon as June 1.

“We’re going to come together because there’s no alternative,” Biden told reporters at the White House.

“To be clear, this negotiation is about the outlines of the budget, not about whether or not we’re going to [pay our debts],” Biden added. “The leaders [of Congress] have all agreed: We will not default. Every leader has said that.”

Meanwhile, McCarthy, during an interview with CNBC, said recent progress in negotiations has made averting a default with a deal by Sunday “doable”.

“I think at the end of the day, we do not have a debt default,” McCarthy said. “Now we have a structure to find a way to come to a conclusion. The timeline is very tight. But we’re going to make sure we’re in the room and get this done.”

Republicans, who control the House by a 222-213 majority, for months had been insisting that Democrats agree to spending cuts in exchange for a deal to raise Congress’s self-imposed debt limit, a move needed regularly since the government spends more than it takes in taxes.

At particular issue has been Republicans’ desire to impose heightened requirements for individuals to work to receive support from some government programs.

On Wednesday, Biden said there is a possibility that some work requirements – which many Democrats strongly oppose – will be included in a final deal.

The comments came after Biden and McCarthy met for about an hour at the White House on Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

The US president spoke shortly before he departed for a Group of Seven summit of world leaders that will take place Friday through Sunday in Japan. He said he will remain in “constant contact” with top lawmakers by telephone while attending the meetings.

The White House had previously announced that Biden was cutting short his trip – including canceling a visit to Australia to meet with the Quad grouping of Asia Pacific allies and what would have been the first presidential visit to Papua New Guinea – in light of the standoff.

Negotiators are aiming to hammer out an agreement before Biden’s scheduled return to Washington on Sunday.

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