Biden Praises Debt Ceiling Deal in Address to the Nation

President Biden hailed a rare example of bipartisan cooperation in Washington on Friday, saying in his first prime-time address from the Oval Office that this week's legislative budget deal averted an economic catastrophe from defaulting on the nation's debt.

The law, known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act, passed the Senate late Thursday after gaining broad support in the House earlier this week. The bill suspended the debt ceiling for two years and reduced spending.

Sitting behind the Resolute Desk, Mr. Biden said he would sign the bill soon and seek to reassure Americans that strong job growth – the economy added 339,000 jobs in May alone – will not be sidetracked by global fears about whether the United States is willing to foot the bill. .

“Crucial for all the progress we have made in recent years is maintaining the full trust and praise of the United States,” Biden said, adding: “Getting this budget agreement through is very important. The stakes couldn't be any higher.”

The speech was designed to double down on Mr. Biden's old brand as a political deal maker capable of striking compromises with his rivals. His advisers believe that reputation is critical to his ability to win a second term in the White House.

But Mr. Biden also used his remarks, which lasted about 12 minutes, to highlight achievements of his administration that Republicans vehemently oppose, and vowed to continue pushing the Democratic agenda that includes higher taxes for the rich, more spending on climate change and veterans and no cuts to health care or a social safety net.

“No one gets everything they want, but the American people get what they need,” he said. He added that “we protect critical priorities from Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid to veterans to our transformational investments in infrastructure and clean energy.”

Mr. Biden went out of his way to compliment House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, his main Republican rival.

“Him and I, us and our team, we get to hang out, get things done,” said Mr. Biden. “We were candid with each other, really honest with each other and respected each other. Both sides are operating in good faith.”

The president said he would sign the bill on Saturday, two days before the so-called X-date, when the Minister of Finance said the government would run out of cash to pay its bill, a situation economists predict will lead to global uncertainty and chaos.

Presidents often reserve the Oval Office for speeches to the nation about wars, economic crises, or natural disasters. President Ronald Reagan delivered a somber welcome from there after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. President Donald J. Trump announced pandemic restrictions from the Oval Office in early 2020.

Mr. Biden's decision to use the same venue Friday underscores how close he believes the nation is veering toward economic disaster.

Mr. Biden and lawmakers have expressed optimism for weeks that they will reach a deal to avoid that outcome, but deep-seated disagreements between Democrats and Republicans have the nation – and the rest of the world – on edge until a vote is called in both chambers. .

In the House, conservative Republicans initially rebelled against McCarthy for failing to win more spending concessions from the president. Some threatened Mr McCarthy's speaker, but backed down amid strong support for another Republican speaker.

Some Democrats in the House and Senate also rejected the compromise, but the White House made the decision to remain silent as voting took place this week, hoping to avoid inflaming the conservative opposition and making McCarthy's job more difficult.

Mr. Biden has said on several occasions that he hopes to find a way to avoid a similar crisis over the debt ceiling in the future and has mentioned the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which says the debt of the United States “will not be questioned.”

Some legal experts believe that a president could use the passage to waive the statutory debt limit, thereby avoiding the usual disputes between parties. Mr. Biden said last month that he hopes to “find a reason to take him to court to see whether or not the 14th Amendment is actually something that can stop him.”

On Sunday, he said, “That's another day.”

Prior to his Oval Office address, Mr. Biden was faced with anger among some progressives in his party because he had agreed to too many Republican demands during the negotiations.

Some Democrat lawmakers oppose the debt ceiling bill because of the new working conditions imposed on some food aid recipients. White House officials argue that the law removes the job requirement for other people, including the homeless and veterans.

The president also angered some environmentalists by agreeing to build a natural gas pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia. Critics say the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline will be to the detriment of wildlife and the environment as it traverses the Appalachian Trail.

For Mr. Biden, the debt ceiling deal helped avoid sapping a strong economy, which was a key selling point for his campaign.

But his political advisers also have to worry about retaining the support of the coalition of voters who put him in 2020, some of whom are disillusioned with his achievements in climate, criminal justice and other areas.