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Biden signs debt ceiling bill with just days to spare

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(NewsNation) — With just two days to spare, President Joe Biden signed legislation on Saturday that lifts the nation’s debt ceiling, averting an unprecedented default on the federal government’s debt.

The White House announced the signing, done in private at the White House, in an emailed statement in which Biden thanked congressional leaders for their partnership.

“I just signed into law a bipartisan budget agreement that prevents a first-ever default while reducing the deficit, safeguarding Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and fulfilling our scared obligation to our veterans,” Biden said in a statement posted on social media. “Now, we continue the work of building the strongest economy in the world.”

Biden on Friday celebrated a “crisis averted” in his first address since the deal’s passage, saying, “No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed.”

The deal will suspend the debt limit for two years, while also putting in new work requirements for older Americans receiving food assistance. It also boosts funding for veterans and defense and approves a natural gas pipeline going from West Virginia to Virginia.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the plan cuts the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade. 

Biden highlighted the “compromise and consensus” in the deal.

“We averted an economic crisis and an economic collapse,” he said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Friday that Biden was using the occasion to deliver his first address to the nation from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office because “he just wanted to make sure that the American people understood how important it was to get this done, how important it was to do this in a bipartisan way.”

The House passed the debt ceiling bill with more than 300 supporting votes, most of which came from Democrats.

“We’re cutting spending and bringing deficits down at the same time,” Biden said. “We’re protecting important priorities, from Social Security to Medicare to Medicaid to veterans to our transformational investments in infrastructure and clean energy.”

But some progressive Democrats and independents are not celebrating.

In a tweet, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., asserted that “The debt deal only serves to hurt poor and working people who will bear the brunt of cruel extreme cuts to programs that help families make ends meet.”

In the Senate, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said the bill would make it easier for fossil fuel companies to “pollute and destroy the planet by fast-tracking the disastrous Mountain Valley Pipeline.”

Biden has argued that his main legislative accomplishments are largely intact, and some have championed the bipartisan nature of the deal.

Biden praised McCarthy and his negotiators for operating in good faith, and all congressional leaders for ensuring swift passage of the legislation.

“They acted responsibly, and put the good of the country ahead of politics,” he said.

Biden got another boost on Friday as the Labor Department reported that the economy had added 339,000 jobs in May. The unemployment rate, however, did tick up to 3.7%, though that is still trending near historic lows.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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