Biden Set to Sign Debt Ceiling Bill 06/03 08:00
President Joe Biden is expected to sign legislation on Saturday to raise the
debt ceiling, dodging Monday's deadline when the Treasury warned that the
United States would start running short of cash to pay all its bills.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Joe Biden is expected to sign legislation on
Saturday to raise the debt ceiling, dodging Monday's deadline when the Treasury
warned that the United States would start running short of cash to pay all its
The bipartisan measure, passed by the House on Wednesday and the Senate on
Thursday, averts the potential of an unprecedented government default that
would have rocked the U.S. and global economies. Raising the nation's debt
limit, now at $31.4 trillion, will ensure that the government can borrow to pay
debts already incurred.
"Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been
higher," Biden said from the Oval Office on Friday evening. "Nothing would have
been more catastrophic," he said, than defaulting on the country's debt.
The agreement was hashed out by Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy,
giving Republicans some of their demanded federal spending cuts but holding the
line on major Democratic priorities. It raises the debt limit until 2025 --
after the 2024 presidential election -- and gives legislators budget targets
for the next two years in hopes of assuring fiscal stability as the political
season heats up.
"No one got everything they wanted but the American people got what they
needed," Biden said, highlighting the "compromise and consensus" in the deal.
"We averted an economic crisis and an economic collapse."
Biden used the opportunity to itemize the achievements of his first term as
he runs for reelection, including support for high-tech manufacturing,
infrastructure investments and financial incentives for fighting climate
change. He also highlighted ways he blunted Republican efforts to roll back his
agenda and achieve deeper cuts.
"We're cutting spending and bringing deficits down at the same time," Biden
said. "We're protecting important priorities from Social Security to Medicare
to Medicaid to veterans to our transformational investments in infrastructure
and clean energy."
Even as he pledged to continue working with Republicans, Biden also drew
contrasts with the opposing party, particularly when it comes to raising taxes
on the wealthy, something the Democratic president has sought.
It's something he suggested may need to wait until a second term.
"I'm going to be coming back," he said. "With your help, I'm going to win."
Biden's remarks were the most detailed comments from the Democratic
president on the compromise he and his staff negotiated. He largely remained
quiet publicly during the high-stakes talks, a decision that frustrated some
members of his party but was intended to give space for both sides to reach a
deal and for lawmakers to vote it to his desk.
Biden praised McCarthy and his negotiators for operating in good faith, and
all congressional leaders for ensuring swift passage of the legislation. "They
acted responsibly, and put the good of the country ahead of politics," he said.
Overall, the 99-page bill restricts spending for the next two years and
changes some policies, including imposing new work requirements for older
Americans receiving food aid and greenlighting an Appalachian natural gas
pipeline that many Democrats oppose. Some environmental rules were modified to
help streamline approvals for infrastructure and energy projects -- a move long
sought by moderates in Congress.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates it could actually expand total
eligibility for federal food assistance, with the elimination of work
requirements for veterans, homeless people and young people leaving foster care.
The legislation also bolsters funds for defense and veterans, cuts back some
new money for the Internal Revenue Service and rejects Biden's call to roll
back Trump-era tax breaks on corporations and the wealthy to help cover the
nation's deficits. But the White House said the IRS' plans to step up
enforcement of tax laws for high-income earners and corporations would continue.
The agreement imposes an automatic overall 1% cut to spending programs if
Congress fails to approve its annual spending bills -- a measure designed to
pressure lawmakers of both parties to reach consensus before the end of the
fiscal year in September.
In both chambers, more Democrats backed the legislation than Republicans,
but both parties were critical to its passage. In the Senate the tally was
63-36 including 46 Democrats and independents and 17 Republicans in favor, 31
Republicans along with four Democrats and one independent who caucuses with the
The vote in the House was 314-117.