Biden says still optimistic on US debt talks
Talks to avoid a US debt default were on a knife edge Saturday as President Joe Biden warned he would not accept "extreme" Republican demands but said he remained optimistic.
"I still believe we'll be able to avoid a default and we'll get something decent done," he told reporters at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.
With the Treasury Department warning that the US government could run out of money as early as June 1 -- triggering massive economic disruption in the world's biggest economy and likely around the globe -- the political battle in Washington has see-sawed without any clear sign of resolution.
Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, are demanding steep budget cuts as a price for allowing an extension of the government's borrowing authority. The White House is seeking to whittle down Republican demands, while arguing that the traditionally uncontroversial annual debt ceiling increase is being weaponized for political gain.
Hopes for a settlement took a blow Friday when Republicans walked out of negotiations, declaring a "pause."
However, the talks restarted hours later, leading White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to say "we are indeed optimistic."
Biden, on the other side of the world for the gathering of rich democracies, was briefed on the situation early Saturday, which was still Friday night in Washington, the White House said.
Biden communications director Ben LaBolt said "Republicans are taking the economy hostage and pushing us to the brink of default, which could cost millions of jobs and tip the country into recession after two years of steady job and wage growth."
While Biden will not accept "extreme" Republican policies, "there remains a path forward to arrive at...