By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA
(NNPA) – As President Biden prepared to attend the G7 Summit in Japan, he stopped to chat with reporters in the Roosevelt Room at the White House and provide an update on the latest debt ceiling negotiations.
The country is a couple of weeks away from its first default.
Biden reiterated that America’s role in the world remains vital, primarily as the U.S. works with its allies to support Ukraine, tackle the climate crisis, and strengthen the global economy.
The president characterized the latest debt ceiling negotiations as “civil and respectful.”
Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said their goal was to reach a deal by the coming weekend to raise the federal government’s debt ceiling past the current $31.4 trillion to avoid a debilitating default.
A deal must be reached and ushered through both houses of Congress by June 1. If not, the government would default on its bills.
“We had a productive meeting,” Biden pronounced.
“I’m confident that we’ll get an agreement on the budget, that America will not default.”
America has never defaulted on its obligations, but a Republican-led and hostile Congress has threatened to make dubious history.
With the 2024 presidential election campaign already heated, some in the GOP are holding out for concessions most Democrats find distasteful.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) also attended the Biden-McCarthy meeting.
“Every leader in the room understands the consequences if we fail to pay our bills,” Biden asserted.
“And 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 that we’re going to come together because there’s no alternative to do the right thing for the country.”
Meanwhile, McCarthy also sounded a more optimistic tone.
“It’s doable,” the Speaker stated when asked whether a deal was possible.
“We’re on such a short timeline; it makes it almost harder,” McCarthy continued.
“But there’s one thing you know, for me, I never give up. I have the grit, the perseverance, and we’re gonna get it done.”
Jeffries said he hoped that a bipartisan agreement would materialize.
Still, he also noted that Democrats in the House would file a discharge petition if they needed to bypass chamber procedures to avoid a default.
If a deal is reached and passed in the House, the Senate must vote on the measure.
While Democrats have a 51-49 majority, the deal still needs nine Republicans to pass.
As part of the stalemate, GOP members have demanded that any measure attach work requirements for anyone receiving government aid like food stamps.
Democrats want to raise taxes on the nation’s most wealthy.
Republicans called that a non-starter and would rather lower-income residents and those receiving federal assistance pick up the costs by paying or working more.
“I’m not going to accept any work requirements that’s going to impact on medical health needs of people,” Biden asserted.
“I’m not going to accept any work requirements that go much beyond what already exists. But it’s possible there could be a few others, but not anything of any consequence.”