Biden, Republicans reach deal on debt ceiling
Updated 15:40, 28-May-2023

United States President Joe Biden and top congressional Republican Kevin McCarthy reached a tentative deal to raise the federal government's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling on Saturday evening, ending a months-long stalemate.

However, the deal was announced without any celebration, in terms that reflected the difficulty of previous negotiations and the arduous path it faces to pass through Congress before the U.S. runs out of money to pay its debts in early June.

"I just got off the phone with the president a bit ago. After he wasted time and refused to negotiate for months, we've come to an agreement in principle that is worthy of the American people," McCarthy tweeted.

Biden called the deal "an important step forward" in a statement, saying: "The agreement represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want. That's the responsibility of governing."

The deal would raise the debt limit for two years while capping spending over that time, claw back unused COVID funds, speed up the permitting process for some energy projects and includes some extra work requirements for food aid programs for poor Americans.

Biden and McCarthy held a 90-minute phone call earlier on Saturday evening to discuss the deal, with McCarthy planning to brief his members later in the evening.

"We still have more work to do tonight to finish the writing of it," McCarthy told reporters on Capitol Hill. McCarthy said he expects to finish writing the bill Sunday, then speak to Biden and have a vote on the deal on Wednesday.

"It has historic reductions in spending, consequential reforms that will lift people out of poverty into the workforce, rein in government overreach - there are no new taxes, no new government programs," he said.

(Reuters with edits; cover via CFP)

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