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Biden leaves on trip to Asia as debt ceiling deal deadline looms

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned of a June 1 deadline for the government to reach a deal in order to avert a default and Biden's trip has generated criticism from Republicans.

Published: May 17, 2023 8:55pm

President Joe Biden departed Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to attend a meeting of the G7 in Japan amid an ongoing negotiation between congressional Republicans and the White House over raising the debt ceiling.

Biden had originally intended to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia, but has canceled those portions of the trip to resume negotiations, The Hill reported. Biden's departure follows a Tuesday meeting between him and congressional leaders that failed to produce a deal to resolve the matter.

House Kevin McCarthy, however, sounded an optimistic tone after that gathering and opined that a deal remained possible. Nonetheless, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly warned of a June 1 deadline for the government to reach a deal in order to avert a default and Biden's trip has generated criticism from Republicans.

Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott said Biden "should not leave, and he should worry about the debt limit here at home," per the outlet.

He was joined by West Virginia GOP Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, who had harsher words for Biden.

"Here we are on the brink of a Biden default. And I think we saw the helicopters going across here, and I said I think he’s leaving now to go to Japan. I’m like stop, stop," she said Wednesday.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has defended Biden's trip, contending that the cancellation of its second leg signaled his commitment to the negotiation.

"As we were getting prepared to take off on this trip, he... made the determination that in the balance of his time, he needed to be back in Washington for the closing days before the deadline to ensure the United States does not go over a cliff. The president is confident that we can avoid default, but the reason he’s going back is to make sure that happens. So what he will tell [allies] is he is going home to do what a president does," Sullivan said.

The nation hit its $31.38 trillion spending limit in January, prompting Yellen to implement "extraordinary measures" to keep the government running. Republicans have sought to pair any increase in the debt limit with caps on spending in order to address the mounting national debt whereas Democrats favor a clean increase.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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