Washington: An optimistic President Joe Biden declared Wednesday he is confident the U.S. will avoid an unprecedented and potentially catastrophic debt default, saying talks with congressional Republicans have been productive. He left for a G-7 summit in Japan but planned to return by the weekend in hopes of approving a solid agreement.
Biden’s upbeat remarks came as a select group of negotiators began meeting to try and hammer out the final contours of a budget spending deal to unlock a path for raising the debt limit as soon June 1. That is when the Treasury Department says the U.S. could begin defaulting on its obligations and trigger financial chaos.
“I’m confident that we’ll get the agreement on the budget and America will not default,” Biden said from the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Later Wednesday evening, negotiations resumed behind closed doors at the Capitol.
Biden said of the latest White House session with congressional leaders that “everyone came to the meeting, I think, in good faith.”
McCarthy was upbeat, too, though contending Biden had given ground. The president said the budget talks were still separate from the debt limit issue, but the speaker said Biden had “finally backed off” his refusal to negotiate.
“Keep working — we’ll work again tonight,” McCarthy told reporters later. “We’re going to work until we can get it done.”
Biden said that every leader at Tuesday’s Oval Office meeting — Vice President Kamala Harris, McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — agreed the U.S. must not default on its obligations.
New work requirements for federal aid?
Work requirements for federal aid programs have emerged as a sticking point in ongoing negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling, and President Joe Biden has signaled openness to a possible compromise even as many in his party have balked.
Legislation passed by the House in April would impose new or expanded work requirements for three federal programs — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the food aid formerly known as food stamps; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, which offers aid to low-income families with children; and Medicaid assistance for adults without dependents.