Biden will shorten trip to Asia to return and negotiate debt ceiling


WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will cut a visit to Asia short as the push to reach a deal to increase the nation’s debt limit grows more urgent, according to a source familiar with the president’s plans.

The White House had stressed how Biden’s attendance at a summit of the Group of Seven major industrial countries in Japan this week would reinforce optimism that the United States can resolve its differences at home. The president had then planned to travel to Australia for a «Quadruple» meeting on May 24, with China’s provocative actions in the region expected to take center stage in meetings with the leaders of Australia, India and Japan.

But with a deal still out of reach and the threat of the country’s first default looming, Biden will return to Washington early to continue negotiations.

Biden will also skip a visit to Papua New Guinea, where he had planned to stop on his way to Sydney to discuss regional security and economic and climate support.

“President Biden has decided to return to the United States on Sunday, immediately after the conclusion of the G7, to ensure that Congress takes action before the deadline to avoid default,” a source familiar with the statement said.

Biden is scheduled to meet with congressional leaders on Tuesday afternoon and then leave for Hiroshima on Wednesday.

If no deal is reached, there is the possibility of a default on the $31.4 trillion national debt, a catastrophic outcome for the US economy. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen had warned this could come as soon as June 1, repeating the warning on Monday.

Biden, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., have said they will only agree to one bill to raise the cap. unconditional borrowing. McCarthy stands by his position that spending cuts must be agreed to raise the ceiling. The two sides have identified areas of possible agreement, with Biden appearing to open the door on job requirements over the weekend.

After meeting with congressional leaders last week, Biden said he was «confident» the country could avoid default, but warned he would stay in town if necessary to continue working on a deal.

A meeting set for last Friday was postponed. Staff negotiators met over the weekend and into Monday before the president and the four congressional leaders met again.

As negotiations progress, the White House has emphasized the role of Biden’s trip in bringing together US allies on global economic and security issues and his focus on China.

Work to counter Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s provocative actions in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait were expected to take center stage during the president’s visits to Asia.

Biden had planned to meet with industrialized countries in Hiroshima, Japan, followed by a «Quad» meeting in Sydney with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

Last week, Biden declined to say when he thought a deal should be reached, telling reporters that «some negotiations happen at the last second.»

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