Biden courts criticism for leaving DC amid 11th-hour debt ceiling talks

 May 28, 2023

Notorious for his propensity to bolt from Washington, D.C. for rest and relaxation every chance he gets, President Joe Biden lit out on Friday for holiday weekend jaunts to Camp David as well as Delaware, even as debt limit negotiations appeared to be reaching a critical stage, as the New York Post reports.

The president's departure comes as some members of his own party were expressing frustration over decisions by some of their colleagues to leave town before an agreement was reached, according to the Daily Mail.

“Things are looking good”

Perhaps as a way to preemptively blunt criticism of his absence from Washington with just days to go before a potential debt default, Biden assured reporters gathered on the White House lawn Friday evening that “[w]ith regard to the debt limit, things are looking good, very optimistic.”

Biden continued, “I hope we'll have some clear evidence tonight before the clock strikes 12 that we have a deal, but it's very close.”

Reiterating his take on where things stood, Biden added, “And I'm optimistic.”

With those words, Biden headed to Camp David in Maryland, where he planned to stay until a quick trip to his Wilmington, Delaware residence on Sunday.

Democrats fume

Not everyone was sold on the wisdom of Biden's weekend getaway, with one House Democrat – who chose to remain anonymous – telling Politico, “Please tell me that's not true,” when informed of the president's impending escape.

“You're going to see a caucus that's so pissed if he's stupid enough to do that,” the legislator added.

Democrat Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI) also slammed those who left town while the debt ceiling situation remained unresolved, saying, “I'm staying. I'm missing my goddaughter's wedding because I have a job to do,” as the Mail noted.

Even so, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre came to Biden's defense on Thursday, saying, “What I can say is that the president can deal with this issue anywhere he is.”

Tentative deal reached

Biden's Friday optimism was – at least for the time being – seemingly borne out when it emerged late Saturday that a tentative deal had been reached between the White House and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), as Reuters reported.

Tweeting about the situation was McCarthy himself, who wrote, “I just got off the phone with the president a bit ago. After he wasted time and refused to negotiate for months, we've come to an agreement in principle that is worthy of the American people.”

Biden himself said of the deal that it “represents a compromise, which means not everyone gets what they want. That's the responsibility of governing.”

NBC News noted that the specifics of the deal must still be written into legislative language, and many questions remain as to whether passage in the Republican House and Democrat-led Senate will be swiftly achievable, something which will become clearer once the specific contours of the deal begin to emerge.

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