Biden says he’s ‘confident’ US won’t default on debt
President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he believes he and Congressional leaders can reach an agreement that will prevent the US government from defaulting on its’ sovereign debt and throwing the world economy into chaos.
Speaking from the Roosevelt Room of the White House just before he departed Washington for the G7 leaders’ summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Mr Biden said the meeting he conducted Tuesday with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had been “productive” as well as “civil and respectful”.
“I'm confident that we'll get the agreement on the budget ... America will not default. And every leader in the room understands the consequences if we fail to pay our bills — it would be catastrophic for the American economy and the American people if we didn't pay our bills, and I'm confident everyone in the room agreed,” he said.
Mr Biden said the substance of negotiations that will continue between senior White House aides and the Republican-led House of Representatives are over budget details — not whether Congress will avert a default by lifting the statutory debt ceiling.
“This negotiation is about the outlines of what the budget will look like, not about whether or not we're going to in fact, pay our debts. The leaders all agree: We will not default,” he said.
While Mr Biden is in Japan to meet with other Group of Seven leaders, the budget talks will continue between representatives of the White House and House Republicans.
Mr Biden has tasked a trio of longtime advisers — Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young and White House legislative affairs director Louisa Terrell with representing him, while Mr McCarthy has deputised Louisiana Representative Garrett Graves to speak for the House GOP majority.
The president said the negotiators had met last night and will meet again today, and he will be “in constant contact” with the group as well as with Mr McCarthy “and other leaders” during his trip.
The president confirmed he is nixing two legs of his trip by postponing planned travel to Austrailia and Papua New Guinea in order to return to the White House following the G7 confab.
At that point, he said he will participate in “final negotiations” over the deal.
“I made clear ... and I'll say it again: America is not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills ... and we're going to continue these discussions with congressional leaders in the coming days until we reach an agreement,” he said.
Mr Biden added that he would have more to say on the negotiations at a press conference on Sunday.