UpdateUS President Joe Biden announced on Friday evening that he will today sign the bill that would increase the debt ceiling in the United States. He said so at 7 p.m. local time (Saturday 1 a.m. Belgian time) in his first speech from the Oval Office at the White House since becoming president two years ago.
A majority in the US House of Representatives and the Senate approved the debt deal last week. It came after feverish negotiations, for which Biden even returned earlier from a series of state visits to countries in Asia.
The president said in his speech that “a crisis has been averted”. In the absence of congressional approval, the United States would have run out of money, causing major chaos in the financial markets.
If the deal had not happened, the US economy would have entered a recession and eight million Americans would have lost their jobs, the president said. “It was necessary to come to an agreement. We have avoided an economic collapse.” He went on to say, “Nobody got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed.”
According to Biden, the deal will reduce government debt and, at the same time, reduce government spending.
Typically, US presidents reserve a speech from the Oval Office for the most important and dramatic events
“The only way American democracy can function is through compromise and consensus,” Biden said. In his speech, he therefore also discussed the cooperation between the Republicans and Democrats, which enabled the deal to be made. “Both sides acted in good faith. Both sides kept their word.” He praised Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, among others. “Our teams got along well and got things done. We were completely honest and respectful to each other.”
“Without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and anger,” the president said. “And we can never become such a country. I can honestly tell you that I have never been more optimistic about America’s future. We just need to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. There is nothing we cannot do.”
Typically, US presidents reserve a speech from the Oval Office – the president’s working office – for the most important and dramatic events, such as the attacks of September 11, 2001 or the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.
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