Biden to give Oval Office address on debt ceiling deal Friday evening after US avoids default

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden planned to praise the contentious, just-passed budget deal in a speech to the nation Friday evening, ready to sign the agreement averting the country’s first-ever government default, which would have sent shock waves through the U.S. and global economies.

The measure was approved late Thursday night after passing the House in yet another late session the night before. Biden is expected to sign it at the White House on Saturday.

After days of default threats, the debt limit-budget agreement was worked out by Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, giving Republicans some of their spending-cut demands but holding the line on major Democratic priorities.

“No one got everything they wanted but the American people got what they needed,” Biden was to say, according to excerpts released in advance by the White House. “We averted an economic crisis and an economic collapse.”

“We’re cutting spending and bringing deficits down,” Biden was to say. “And, we protected important priorities from Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid to veterans to our transformational investments in infrastructure and clean energy.”

Biden’s speech on Friday, scheduled for 7 p.m. EDT, will be the most extended remarks from the Democratic president on the compromise. He largely remained quiet publicly during negotiations, 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.

Fast action was vital if Washington hoped to meet next Monday’s deadline, when Treasury has said the U.S. will start running short of cash to pay its bills.

“There is a gravity, as you all can imagine, of this moment,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday, on why Biden was using the occasion to deliver his first address to the nation from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. “He just wanted to make sure that the American people understood how important it was to get this done, how important it was to do this in a bipartisan way.”

The deal suspends the nation’s debt limit until 2025, after the next presidential election, and ensures that the government can continue borrowing to pay already incurred U.S. debts.

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 line that many Democrats oppose. Some environmental rules were modified to help streamline approvals for infrastructure projects.

The legislation also bolsters funds for defense and veterans, cuts back new money for Internal Revenue Service agents and rejects Biden’s call to roll back Trump-era tax breaks on corporations and the wealthy to help cover the nation’s deficits. It imposes automatic overall 1% cuts if Congress fails approve its annual spending bills. The tally was 46 Democrats AND INDEPENDENTS and 17 Republicans in favor; 31 Republicans along with four Democrats and one independent who caucuses with the Democrats opposed.

The vote in the House was 314-117. In the Senate it 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 Democrats opposed.


AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

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