President Biden on Thursday sought to reassure Americans that benefits for veterans and Social Security recipients would not be impacted by the looming threat of a default as negotiators struggle to come to a budget deal and raise the debt ceiling.
“I’ve made clear time and again defaulting on our national debt is not an option,” Biden said in remarks from the Rose Garden, where he was set to nominate the new Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“The American people deserve to know that their Social Security payments will be there, that Veterans’ hospitals remain open and that economic progress will be made and we’re going to continue to make it,” Biden continued. “Default puts all that at risk. Congressional leaders understand that, and they’ve all agreed there will be no default. It’s time for Congress to act now.”
Biden said negotiators for the White House and McCarthy’s team have had “several productive conversations,” and that the two sides were meeting Thursday afternoon to continue to try to clinch a deal.
Republicans have pushed for spending cuts to be part of any final budget deal, which would accompany a vote to increase the debt ceiling. But Democrats have balked at some of the GOP’s suggested reductions, arguing it would severely cut government services.
The Treasury Department has alerted lawmakers that the U.S. could default on its debt as early as the beginning of June without congressional action, adding a greater sense of urgency to talks as the date nears next week.
Experts have warned that if the U.S. defaults, Social Security payments and other benefits for elderly Americans would be among the first programs to suffer the consequences.