US Prez Joe Biden Hails Passage of Debt Ceiling Bill in Oval Office Address
In his brief speech, President Biden said, “No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed.”
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden delivered his first speech from the Oval Office on Friday night to celebrate Congress’s approval of a debt-ceiling bill, a day after the Senate passed the bill which is considered as a compromise between the president and Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House speaker.
The bill’s enactment was described by Biden as “essential to the progress we’ve made over the last few years” in “keeping full faith and credit of the United States of America and passing a budget that continues to grow our economy and reflects our values as a nation”.
Biden said he was speaking to report on a crisis averted and what they are doing to ‘protect America’s future.’
Biden is scheduled to sign the bill on Saturday, with just two days left for the debt default deadline on Monday. After it is enacted, the new law will suspend the government’s borrowing limit until January 2025.
Biden’s first formal address from the Oval Office came within 24 hours of the Senate passing the debt ceiling bill in a 63 to 36 bipartisan vote. The bill was passed by the Republican-controlled House of Representatives a day earlier, in a 314 to 117 vote.
The bill’s signing will avert the first federal default in US history, with potentially upending the American economy and global markets. A federal default could cause a doubling of the US unemployment rate, while significantly damaging America’s GDP, economists have warned.
“Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher,” Biden said. “If we had failed to reach an agreement on the budget, there were extreme voices threatening to take America, for the first time in our 247-year history, into default on our national debt. Nothing, nothing would have been more irresponsible. Nothing would have been more catastrophic. Our economy would have been thrown in recession.”
Even though Biden had been insisting that Congress must pass a “clean” debt ceiling bill with no strings attached, he was finally forced to negotiate with McCarthy, as part of which some spending cuts and new work requirements for benefits programs were agreed to by McCarthy and Biden.
Biden emphasized in his Friday speech that the spending cuts envisaged in the final version of the bill were, however, more modest than those outlined in the original proposal passed by House Republicans.
“No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed,” Biden said. “We averted an economic crisis, an economic collapse. We’re cutting spending and bringing the deficits down at the same time. We’re protecting important priorities – from Social Security to Medicare to veterans to our transformational investments in infrastructure and clean energy.”