After Tuesday’s meeting to resolve the country’s looming debt limit issue failed to reach a conclusion, U.S. President Joe Biden canceled his scheduled trips to Australia and Papua New Guinea to resume talks in Washington.
The visit to Papua New Guinea planned for May 22 would have been historic, according to NBC 5 DFW. Biden’s three-hour stopover after the G-7 meeting in Japan and en route to Australia would have been the first official visit of a U.S. president to any Pacific Island nation.
As The Dallas Express reported, the latest projections from the U.S. treasury named June 1 as a potential date when the government is expected to default on its financial obligations if the debt limit is not raised or suspended.
Before leaving for Japan on May 17, Biden sat down with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).
While a solution was not agreed upon, Biden reported that all agreed “defaulting on the debt is simply not an option,” according to CNN.
Defaulting would lessen the country’s credit rating, as well as usher in a massive recession that could cost millions of Americans their jobs, as The Dallas Express reported.
“There is still work to do but I made it clear to [House Speaker McCarthy] and others that we’ll speak directly over the next several days and the staff is going to continue meeting daily to make sure we do not default,” Biden said, according to CNN.
The GOP has been vocal in criticizing the Biden administration for not dealing with the debt limit issue in a more timely manner.
“We lost time because President Biden refused to meet with Speaker McCarthy and gambled that Speaker McCarthy could not pass a plan — Speaker McCarthy did,” said Senator John Kennedy (R-LA), according to CNN.
As The Dallas Express reported, McCarthy had to unite a divided Republican caucus late last month to pass his Limit, Save, Grow Act plan in the House.
While noting that the parties are still “a long way apart,” McCarthy said some progress had been made in the Tuesday meeting, noting that Biden had selected two officials from his administration to negotiate directly with representatives from the GOP, according to CNN.
The let-down in Papua New Guinea is an unfortunate consequence of this debt limit issue.
A public holiday had been declared in the country ahead of Biden’s visit, with Prime Minister James Marape writing on social media, “I am very honored that he has fulfilled his promise to me to visit our country.”
Biden was also set to further a proposed security deal between Papua New Guinea and the U.S., which would grant American forces access to its airspace and waters.
As The Dallas Express has recently reported, China has also been trying to establish greater influence among Pacific Island nations like Papua New Guinea with mixed results.