Biden would have become the first sitting US president to visit Papua New Guinea and is set to join the Quad summit in Australia. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans have criticized Biden’s plans to travel abroad as lawmakers face a possible June 1 deadline.
“The President has made it clear that members of Congress from both parties and both chambers must meet to prevent default, where they have 78 before. The President and his team will continue to work with congressional leadership to advance a budget agreement that can reach the party,” White House Press Secretary Karen Jean-Pierre said in a statement. President’s Office statement.
The debt ceiling negotiations resumed Tuesday afternoon when Biden, McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell met at the White House.
Biden later spoke at a White House celebration of Jewish Heritage Month, calling it a “good and productive meeting” on a way forward to avoid default.
“There is still work to be done, but I have made it clear to the speaker and the others that we will be speaking regularly over the next couple of days, and the staff will continue to meet daily to make sure we don’t default,” said the president. He added that he would shorten his trip “in order to return to the final negotiations.”
McCarthy exited the discussion saying the two sides were still far apart but also said it was “possible” to reach an agreement soon in a few days.
“It’s possible to get a deal by the end of the week,” McCarthy told ABC News’ Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott outside the White House. It is not difficult to come to an agreement.”
What changed in Tuesday’s meeting, McCarthy said, was how the two sides would negotiate moving forward. The spokesperson said Biden agreed to designate two senior members of his team to work directly with McCarthy and his staff, rather than through negotiations between all four congressional leaders.
“The structure has changed, so we’re in a better process,” McCarthy said.
After the meeting, Schumer told reporters that the leaders agreed they needed to pass “a bipartisan bill with bipartisan support in both houses.”
“Default is the worst, worst alternative, and having a bipartisan bill in both houses is the only way to avoid default,” said the Senate Democratic leader.
Adding to the pressure ahead of Tuesday’s debt-ceiling summit, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the economic shock from an unprecedented default “could trigger a recession.”
“It is imperative that Congress act as quickly as possible,” she said, while making remarks in downtown Washington, noting that they were already seeing “the effects of brinkmanship” and that “default would lead to economic disaster.”
Yellen has repeatedly warned that the US could default in early June, possibly as early as June 1, though the exact date remains uncertain.
Yellen wrote Monday in a letter to McCarthy that the Treasury Department was already seeing negative effects on the economy as negotiations dragged on — including an increase in borrowing costs — and more damage could come if lawmakers wait until the last hour for a deal.
Biden and Democrats had insisted Republicans eliminate debt defaults, and separate the debt ceiling from the 2024 budget. Republicans, on the other hand, said they did their job by passing the Limit, Savings and Growth Act last month to raise the debt ceiling and enact deep spending cuts.
Potential areas of agreement on budget talks that will emerge since the last debt-ceiling meeting between the so-called “Big Five” include restoring billions of dollars in unspent COVID-19 relief and overhauling the permitting process for energy projects — a GOP priority — sources familiar with the matter said. The talks are for ABC News.
“This shouldn’t be that difficult,” McConnell said after Tuesday’s meeting. “No. 1, we know we’re not going to default. They know it, we know it. Time is running out.”