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 averts economic calamity from a default on the nation’s debt.

The legislation, known as the Fiscal Responsibility Act, passed the Senate late Thursday after receiving broad support in the House earlier in the week. The bill suspends the debt ceiling for two years and cuts back on spending.

Seated behind the Resolute Desk, Mr. Biden said he would soon sign the measure into law and sought to reassure Americans that robust job growth — the economy added 339,000 jobs in May alone — would not be sidetracked by global fears about whether the United States is willing to pay its bills.

“Essential to all the progress we’ve made in the last few years is keeping full faith and credit of the United States,” Mr. Biden said, adding: “Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher.”

The speech was designed to double down on Mr. Biden’s longtime brand as a political deal-maker who is able to reach compromise 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 by his administration that are fiercely opposed by Republicans, and vowed to continue pushing a Democratic agenda that includes higher taxes on the wealthy, more spending on climate change and veterans and no cuts to health care or the social safety net.

“No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed,” he said. He added that “we protected important 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 praise House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, his chief Republican rival.

“He and I, we and our teams, we were able to get along, get things done,” Mr. Biden said. “We were straightforward with one another, completely honest with one another and respectful with one another. Both sides operated in good faith.”

The president said he would sign the bill on Saturday, two days before the so-called X-date, when the Treasury secretary said the government would run out of cash to pay its bills, a situation that economists have predicted would cause global uncertainty and turmoil.

Presidents often reserve the Oval Office for addresses to the nation about war, economic crises or natural disasters. President Ronald Reagan delivered somber remarks 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 on Friday underscores how close he believes the nation veered toward economic disaster.

Mr. Biden and lawmakers had expressed optimism for weeks that they would reach an accord to avoid that outcome, but the deep disagreements between Democrats and Republicans kept the country — and the rest of the world — on edge until the votes were cast in both chambers.

In the House, conservative Republicans initially revolted against Mr. McCarthy for failing to win more spending concessions from the president. Several threatened Mr. McCarthy’s speakership, but backed down amid robust support for the speaker from other Republicans.

Some Democrats in the House and Senate also resisted the compromise, but the White House made the decision to largely keep quiet as the votes proceeded this week, hoping to avoid inflaming the conservative opposition and making Mr. McCarthy’s job harder.

Mr. Biden has said on several occasions that he hoped 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 “shall not be questioned.”

Some legal experts believe that a president could use that passage to ignore the statutory debt limit, thereby avoiding the regular clashes between the parties. Mr. Biden said last month that he hoped to “find a rationale to take it to the courts to see whether or not the 14th Amendment is, in fact, something that would be able to stop it.”

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

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

Some Democratic lawmakers voted against the debt ceiling legislation because of new work requirements that it imposes on some recipients of food assistance. White House officials have argued that the legislation removes work requirements for others, including the homeless and veterans.

The president also angered some environmentalists by agreeing to approve construction of a natural gas pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia. Critics say the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline will hurt wildlife and the environment as it cuts across the Appalachian Trail.

For Mr. Biden, the debt ceiling deal helps to avoid undercutting the strong economy, which is a key selling point for his campaign.

But his political advisers also have to be concerned about maintaining support from the coalition of voters who put him in office in 2020, some of whom have been disappointed with his achievements in climate, criminal justice and other areas.

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