Debt ceiling: Biden says compromise ‘a really important step forward’

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Sunday said that the debt agreement he struck with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was “a really important step forward” and urged Congress to pass the bill when it goes to Congress on Wednesday.

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Biden spoke about the deal during a brief news conference on Sunday.

The compromise, which would freeze federal spending that had been projected to grow, had the blessing of both Biden and McCarthy. The deal now must go before Congress, which has a June 5 deadline to avoid the first default in U.S. history.

Biden and McCarthy spoke with each other on Sunday evening, according to The Associated Press.

Negotiators continued working on a draft of the bill so lawmakers can review the compromises that both sides reached, according to the news organization.

“I think we’re in good shape,” Biden said earlier Sunday.

McCarthy, agreed, telling reporters at the Capitol that “at the end of the day, people can look together to be able to pass this.”

The compromise will impose new work requirements for some recipients of government aid, including food stamps and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, according to The New York Times. It would put new limits on people 54 and older, but will expand food stamp access for veterans and the homeless, the newspaper reported.

Biden and McCarthy spoke on Saturday before the deal was announced.

The conversation between the president and speaker took place after U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., a lead negotiator in the talks, told reporters that the parties were either “hours or days” away from an agreement, according to the newspaper.

The marathon discussions continued after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers on Friday that there was a June 5 deadline to act before the U.S. government ran out of money to pay its bills, The Washington Post reported.

A default would have sent the nation into a recession, according to the newspaper.

White House and congressional Republican negotiators worked around the clock as the Memorial Day weekend began, trying to reach a deal to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, according to the Times.

Work requirements for benefits had been a sticking point, with Republicans favoring that measure while the White House has been pushing back, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The country’s federal debt currently stands at $31.4 trillion.

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