Biden announces deal to avoid default; urges Congress to pass it

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the bipartisan budget agreement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House upon his return to Washington on Sunday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI
1 of 2 | U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the bipartisan budget agreement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House upon his return to Washington on Sunday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

May 29 (UPI) -- A bipartisan deal has been struck to raise the country's debt ceiling, President Joe Biden announced Sunday evening, while urging Congress to pass the legislation to ensure the United States avoids defaulting on its financial responsibilities.

"It takes the threat of catastrophic default off the table," he said. "It protects our hard-earned and historic recovery."


During his remarks to the press from the White House's Roosevelt Room on Sunday evening, Biden called the agreement he made with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., "a compromise" and "good news" for the American people.

"The agreement prevents the worst possible crisis: a default for the first time in our nation's history," he said. "The agreement now goes to the United States House and to the Senate. And I strongly urge both -- both chambers to pass that agreement."


The 11th-hour deal ends a monthslong feud between the Biden administration and congressional Republicans over raising the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling ahead of its June deadline.

Congress has raised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960, the majority during GOP presidencies including three times during the previous Trump administration. But Republicans have sought to leverage their majority in the House to push back against Democratic spending by demanding cuts, especially to social programs, in exchange of raising the debt ceiling. The Biden administration had been steadfast that the debt ceiling be raised without conditions.

On Sunday evening, Biden rebuked the notion that he negotiated raising the debt ceiling, saying that the issue is separate from spending cuts.

"We're not negotiating the debt ceiling," he said. "But if you want to try to make it look like I made some compromise on the debt ceiling, I didn't. I made a compromise on the budget."

Congress has before June 5 to pass the bill to avoid default. Biden officials have warned that the nation failing to pay their bills would be "catastrophic," potentially leading to a recession and a loss of jobs at home as well as significant international consequences.

White House officials told reporters in a phone call Sunday that it is a two-year appropriations agreement that will keep non-defense spending flat through 2024, with non-defense spending to increase by 1% in 2025.


Some of the adjustments include the repurposing of emergency COVID-19 relief money and IRS funding.

The deal also includes the GOP proposal for work requirements for people under the age of 54 to receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, aid.

The SNAP changes, however, are temporary, the official said, stating they expire in 2030, "which will give Congress an opportunity to re-evaluate them."

McCarthy told reporters during a Sunday press conference at the Capitol that 95% of Republicans were "overwhelmingly excited" by the contents of the Fiscal Responsibility Act that will, if passed, raise the debt ceiling.

"This is going to be transformational, where Congress will vote to spend less money this year than we spent last year. We are going to reform cutting red tape," he said.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also called on Congress to pass the bill, saying his branch of the legislative government must act "without unnecessary delay."

House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., told CBS News' Face the Nation on Sunday that he expects Democratic support for the bill, but did not want to estimate numbers.

"We have to go through a process consistent with respecting every single member of the House of Representatives and their ability to fully understand the resolution that has been reached," he said, stating they are to be fully briefed on it by the White House.


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