Quad Summit Canceled After Biden Scraps Australia Visit Amid U.S. Debt Talks

May 17, 2023

A summit of Quad leaders from the U.S., India, Australia, and Japan set for next week in Sydney has been canceled after Biden scrapped his visit there amid ongoing negotiations with Congressional leaders to avoid defaulting on the U.S debt.

Biden has also canceled a visit to Papua New Guinea, where he was to meet with Pacific Island leaders, as well as Australia.

However, Biden was still set to travel to Japan on Wednesday for a Group of Seven (G-7) leader summit. 

The President’s meeting Tuesday at the White House with Congressional leaders—House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as well as Vice President Harris—broke up without a deal to raise the debt ceiling.

However, the leaders did strike an optimistic tone afterward, with both sides appointing top negotiators to work to come to an agreement, which McCarthy said could possibly happen by the end of the week.

“The structure of how we negotiate has improved, so it now gives you a better opportunity,” the Speaker said outside the White House following the meeting.

“I made it clear to the Speaker and others that we’ll speak regularly over the next several days” Biden said, “and staff’s going to continue meeting daily to make sure we do not default.”

Though the debt ceiling has been raised cleanly, without any strings attached, in years past, House Republicans have proposed legislation that ties a short-term debt ceiling hike to decade-long spending cuts.

The bill, which passed in the House along partisan lines, includes cuts to veterans’ benefits and work requirements for Medicaid recipients. As-is, Schumer has declared it dead on arrival in the Democratic-controlled Senate. 

Meanwhile, all but six Republican Senators—Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Josh Hawley of Missouri and John Kennedy of Louisiana—have vowed to oppose raising the debt ceiling without “substantive spending and budget reforms.” 

The federal government hit its $31.4 trillion debt limit on January 19, after which  the U.S. Treasury undertook what Secretary Janet Yellen called temporary, “extraordinary measures” to prevent defaulting on the debt.

She has said  June 1 could be the day the government runs out of money.

The United States has never defaulted on its debt. But it has repeatedly come close, perhaps most notably in 2011 when the U.S. suffered its only credit rating downgrade in its history, amid the rise of the conservative tea party movement in the House.

PHOTO: @WhiteHouse

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