Biden is taking an abbreviated trip abroad as the debt ceiling deadline nears
President Biden is traveling to Japan for the G-7 summit but has opted to scrap planned visits to Papua New Guinea and Australia as the deadline for an agreement on raising the debt limit expires.
“President Biden will return to the United States on Sunday following the conclusion of the G-7 summit to return to meetings with congressional leaders to ensure Congress takes timely action to avert a default,” the White House said in a statement Press release Tuesday explaining the cancellation of planned stops in Papua New Guinea and Australia.
Biden will continue to attend the G-7 summit, scheduled for Friday through Sunday, where the White House expects nations to discuss a range of global issues, including the group’s “unwavering support for Ukraine.”
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But much-anticipated visits to Papua New Guinea and the Quad summit in Australia have been scrapped from the schedule to allow Biden to return to debt ceiling negotiations more quickly amid a possible default in early June.
“The President spoke to Prime Minister Albanese today to let him know that he will be postponing his trip to Australia,” the White House said. “He also invited the PM for an official state visit at a time to be agreed by the teams.”
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The White House said the government had also “been in touch with the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister’s team” to explain the situation, although it was unclear whether the planned trip would be postponed.
Biden has called on lawmakers from both parties to come together on debt ceiling negotiations. The White House pointed out that cross-party negotiations on this issue had already led to compromises on several occasions.
“The President has made it clear that members of Congress from both parties and houses must come together to prevent a default, as they have done 78 times before,” the White House said. “The President and his team will continue to work with Congressional leadership to reach a budget agreement that can reach the President’s desk.”
The urgent negotiations curtailed a trip the White House hoped would help reaffirm US commitments in the Pacific amid rising tensions in the region. The quad alliance of the US, Australia, Japan and India hopes to combat the growing influence and threat posed by China.
Biden will instead fly back to Washington after being criticized by some congressional leaders that the president would be abroad during a crucial period of negotiations.
“Rejuvenating and reinvigorating our alliances and fostering partnerships like the Quad remains a key priority for the President,” the White House said. “This is critical to our ability to advance our foreign policy goals and better promote global stability and prosperity. We look forward to finding other ways to work with Australia, the Quad, Papua New Guinea and the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum in the future year.”
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Republicans have called for spending cuts as part of every debt-ceiling deal, though many of the proposed cuts have met with fierce opposition from Democrats.
If all sides fail to reach an agreement by early June, the US could default on its debt, which some economists say would lead to a sharp economic downturn.