Biden to Deliver Oval Office Address as U.S. Averts Default

President Biden is scheduled to deliver a rare Oval Office address on Friday evening after congressional passage of legislation that narrowly averts the economic calamity of a first-ever default on the nation’s debt.

The legislation, knows as the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, passed the Senate late Thursday after receiving broad support in the House this week. It suspends the debt ceiling for two years and cuts back on spending.

Mr. Biden is expected to sign the bill before his remarks at 7 p.m. on Friday, just three days before the Treasury secretary said the government’s ability to pay its debt would expire, a situation that economists predicted would cause global turmoil.

The president and lawmakers had expressed optimism for weeks that they would reach an agreement to avoid that outcome, but the deep disagreements between Democrats and Republicans kept the country — and the world — on edge until the votes were cast in both chambers.

Presidents often reserve the Oval Office for addresses to the nation about war, economic crises or natural disasters. President Ronald Reagan delivered somber remarks from the Oval Office about the space shuttle Challenger explosion in 1986. President Donald J. Trump announced pandemic restrictions from the Oval Office in early 2020.

Mr. Biden’s decision to use the same venue on Friday underscores how close he believes the two sides had veered toward economic calamity.

White House officials were cagey about what Mr. Biden planned to say in his remarks. But he has said on several occasions that he hoped to find a way to avoid a similar situation in the future and has mentioned a part of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution that says the debt of the United States “shall not be questioned.”

Some legal experts believe that a president could use that passage to ignore the statutory debt limit, thereby avoiding the regular clashes between the parties. Mr. Biden said last month that he hoped to “find a rationale to take it to the courts to see whether or not the 14th Amendment is, in fact, something that would be able to stop it.”

On Sunday, he said, “That’s another day.”

In the Oval Office speech, Mr. Biden could also confront the anger among some progressives in his party that he agreed to too many Republican demands during the negotiations.

Some Democratic lawmakers voted against the debt ceiling legislation because of new work requirements that it imposes on some recipients of food assistance. White House officials have argued that the legislation also removes work requirements for others, including the homeless and veterans. But Democratic critics continue to be upset.

The president also angered some environmentalists by agreeing to approve construction of a natural gas pipeline through West Virginia and Virginia. Critics say the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline will hurt wildlife and the environment as it cuts across the Appalachian Trail.

For Mr. Biden, who is running for a second term as president, the debt ceiling deal helps to avoid undercutting the strong economy, which is a key selling point for his campaign. In his remarks, he is likely to talk about the strong job growth during his first two years in office.

But his political advisers also have to be concerned about maintaining support from the coalition of voters who put him in office in 2020, some of whom have been disappointed with his achievements in climate, criminal justice and other areas.

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