Biden says 'confident' in reaching deal to avert default
Washington (AFP) -
President Joe Biden said Wednesday he is confident a deal can be reached with Republicans leaders to avert a potentially catastrophic US debt default as early as June 1.
'The leaders have all agreed we will not default,' Biden said in brief remarks at the White House, shortly before departing for the G7 meeting of world leaders in Japan.
Biden and congressional leaders including House speaker Kevin McCarthy have held two rounds of face-to-face talks to try and reach an agreement to raise the US borrowing limit and thus allow the country to pay for its existing obligations.
After the latest negotiations on Tuesday ended without a breakthrough, McCarthy told reporters there was still 'a lot of work to do' to break the high-stakes standoff with Democrat Biden over the debt ceiling.
Republicans continue to insist Biden must agree to significant spending cuts in exchange for their support to raise the ceiling, ignoring repeated Democratic calls for a 'clean' increase of the borrowing limit with no strings attached.
Democrats have accused Republicans of using extreme tactics to push their political agenda ahead of the so-called 'X-date' at which the United States starts defaulting on its debts because the government has run out of money.
Biden confirmed Wednesday that he was cutting short a wider tour to the Asia-Pacific region which included a meeting with the Australian premier and a stop in Papua New Guinea, and planned to return to Washington Sunday for 'final' debt ceiling negotiations.
But he insisted once more that default was not an option.
'It would be catastrophic for the American economy and the American people if we didn't pay our bills,' he said.
'America is not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills,' he added.