Joe Biden

Remarks on the Public Debt Limit and an Exchange With Reporters

May 17, 2023

The President. Hey, everybody. Well, I'm about to take off in a few minutes, if you hear the helicopter out there, to Japan—not in the helicopter, but to Andrews. The—anyway—and to meet with the leaders of G-7.

America's role in the world is vital, especially right now as we work together with other countries to support Ukraine and take on the challenges that demand international cooperation, from tackling the climate crisis to strengthening the global economy.

And before I leave, I wanted to say a word about the status of negotiations with the Congressional leaders. We had a productive meeting yesterday and—with all four leaders in the Congress. It was civil and respectful, and everyone came to the meeting, I think, in good faith.

I'm confident that we'll get the agreement on the budget, that America will not default. And every leader in the room understands the consequences if we fail to pay our bills. And it would be catastrophic for the American economy and the American people if we didn't pay our bills.

And I'm confident everyone in the room agreed, with the Speaker—from the Speaker to the majority leader to the—majority leader in the House and the Senate—excuse me—the majority leader in the Senate, the minority leader in the Senate, as well as the leader—the Democratic leader in the House, that we're going to come together, because there's no alternative to do the right thing for the country. We have to move on.

And to be clear, this negotiation is about the outlines of what the budget will look like, not about whether or not we're going to, in fact, pay our debts. The leaders have all agreed we will not default. Every leader has said that.

And I'm proud of the progress my administration has made. We've reduced the deficit in the first 2 years by $1.7 trillion in the first 2 years. And I have proposed a budget that will reduce another $3 trillion over the next decade. That includes more revenue by asking the wealthy and large corporations to begin to pay their fair share and cutting subsidies that exist in the law now to Big Oil and Big Pharma.

Yesterday we all agreed that both the Speaker McCarthy and I would designate senior members that we would negotiate to give our authority to make agreements and detail on what we wanted. So we narrowed the group. We narrowed the group to meet and hammer out our differences.

And we've done that. In fact, they've met last night, and they're going to be meeting again today. And I'll be in constant contact with my team while I'm at the G-7. And I'll be in close touch with Speaker McCarthy and other leaders as well.

Now, what I have done in anticipation that we won't get it all done until I get back is, I've cut my trip short in order to be—for the final negotiations and sign the deal with the majority leader. I made it clear that—and I'll say it again: America is not a deadbeat nation. We pay our bills. The Nation has never defaulted on its debt, and it never will.

And we're going to continue these discussions with the congressional leaders in the coming days until we reach an agreement. And I'll have more to say about that on Sunday and—when I'm going to have a press conference on this issue. As it stands now, the intention is to go to the G-7, be back here on Sunday, hold a press conference.

And in the meantime, I'm going—I've spoken to the Australian leader, Albanese, and I've spoken to—I'm going to be seeing him at the G-7. He'll be there as well, along with the Indian Prime Minister and along with the Japanese as well. So the Quad members will be there. We'll get a chance to talk separately at the meeting, but it's unlikely I'm going to be going on to Australia.

So thank you very much.

Work Requirements for Federal Benefit Recipients

Q. Mr. President, what about work requirements specifically are you still considering? It sounds like it's still on the table and you haven't ruled it out. Which would you be willing to accept?

The President. Well, I'm not—they're—I'm not going to accept any work requirements that's going to impact on medical health needs of people. I'm not going to accept any work requirements that go much beyond what is already—what I—I voted years ago for the work requirements that exist. But it's possible there could be a few others, but not anything of any consequence.

Thank you.

Q. Mr. President——

Cancellation of the President's Travel to Australia and Papua New Guinea

Q. What message does this send——

The President. That we're——

Q. ——to PNG and Australia? I know that it was important to you to focus on Asia on this trip, but this is having to be put aside. Does this—is this almost a win for China?

The President. No. No, because we're still meeting. We still have four good allies.

Q. Mr. President, will you be announcing new sanctions on Russia during the G-7?

President Xi Jinping of China

Q. Mr. President, do you intend to speak with President Xi soon, sir?

The President. That's my—whether it's soon or not, but we will be meeting.

Q. You will be meeting, or you will be speaking?

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:13 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Minority Leader A. Mitchell McConnell; and House Minority Leader Hakeem S. Jeffries; Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia; Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India; and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan.

Joseph R. Biden, Remarks on the Public Debt Limit and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives