Facing pressure to resolve the ongoing U.S. debt limit standoff, President Joe Biden said he expects to resume budget negotiations with congressional leadership on Tuesday, just one day before he leaves for the G7 summit in Japan.
He declined to give details on where they stand in terms of a negotiated deal but said he believed an agreement could be reached with House Republicans to raise or suspend the debt cap before the U.S. runs out of cash, which the Treasury Department has said could happen as early as June 1.
“I remain optimistic because I am a congenital optimist,” Biden told reporters on Sunday evening while out for a bike ride in Rehoboth Beach, Del. “I really think there is a desire on their part as well as ours to reach an agreement. And I think we’ll be able to do it.”
Biden’s comments come less than a week after Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he “didn’t see any new movement” toward a resolution on the debt limit. There is currently little indication that either side has budged from their initial positions.
“We’ve not reached the crunch point yet,” Biden told reporters Saturday before boarding a flight to the beach. “There’s real discussion about some changes we all could make. We’re not there yet.”
Biden was supposed to meet with McCarthy and other top congressional leaders last Friday, but their meeting was postponed to let staff continue discussions over the weekend.
McCarthy has maintained that he wants to attach spending reductions to a debt ceiling increase, while Biden has insisted that he would not negotiate over the debt limit, calling on Congress to pass a clean increase before addressing a framework for spending.
When asked if he would support the tougher work requirements for federal aid recipients that Republicans want included in the deal, Biden said he’s voted for some in the past. “For Medicaid, it’s a different story and so I’m waiting to hear what their exact proposal is,” he said.
Pressure is mounting on the two sides to find consensus and break the months-long stalemate. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the U.S. could default on its debt for the first time in history, a scenario that would be economically devastating and could plunge the global economy into a financial crisis.
Despite the looming deadline to strike a deal with Republicans, Biden said he still plans to travel to Japan on Wednesday for the Group of Seven summit that is set to begin in Hiroshima on Friday.
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