President Joe Biden on Monday said he was “optimistic” about the chances of finding an agreement with the Republican-led House of Representatives that would avoid a catastrophic default on America’s sovereign debt.
Speaking at the outset of a crucial meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Mr Biden said the source of his optimism was a shared agreement between the two men that a debt default is “off the table”.
Mr Biden also said the consequences that would arise should the US fail to meet its outstanding debt obligations would be “a kick in the ... economic well-being” for the American people.
The negotiating session between the president and House speaker comes with just 10 days remaining before the US Treasury is set to lose the ability to pay its bills by issuing new bonds.
In a letter to Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Monday that “it is highly likely” that the Treasury would run out of operating funds in the event that Congress does not raise the department’s statutory debt limit.
A default on America’s sovereign debt would be a financial catastrophe both for Americans and people around the world who rely on US financial stability.
Mr Biden said he and Mr McCarthy “talked about the need for bipartisan agreement” and stressed that he was “optimistic” that he and Mr McCarthy were “going to make some progress” during the Monday evening session.
For his part, the House speaker said he and Mr Biden had a “very productive” conversation during a phone call held on Sunday while Mr Biden was returning to Washington from the G7 summit aboard Air Force One.
Earlier in the day, Mr McCarthy told reporters at the Capitol that “decisions have to start being made” on spending for the next fiscal year since “we’re 10 days out” from the debt ceiling deadline.
“We have to spend less next year than we spent this year,” he said before pointing to the House’s proposal for spending cuts as the “framework” for a deal.
“I’m hopeful,” he added.