President Biden is cutting short an international trip in order to hammer out a last-minute deal to raise the debt limit.
The change of plans suggests Biden is feeling the pressure to negotiate a deal with Republicans to avoid a default.
Biden left for Japan on Wednesday, with plans to return to Washington on Sunday. He had originally planned to visit Papua New Guinea and Australia as well.
The White House's spin artists sought to downplay the cancellation, while blaming Republicans for it at the same time.
“We wouldn’t even be having this discussion about the effect of the debt ceiling debate on the trip if Congress would do its job, raise the debt ceiling the way they’ve always done," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.
Ahead of his departure, Biden signaled confidence that an agreement between the parties was forthcoming. Biden held talks with the top congressional leaders at the White House the day prior.
"We had a productive meeting yesterday with all four leaders in the Congress. It was civil and respectful and everyone came to the meeting, I think, in good faith. I'm confident that we'll get the agreement on the budget, that America will not default," Biden said.
"The leaders have all agreed, we will not default. Every leader has said that."
At his own press conference, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Ca.) taunted Biden over his travel plans and urged him to "stop hiding" from America's problems.
Mr. President: Stop hiding. Stop running away from the mess you made in Washington.
America needs a president who is focused on America's problems. pic.twitter.com/YX8DzlvciN
— Kevin McCarthy (@SpeakerMcCarthy) May 17, 2023
McCarthy took credit for bringing Biden to the negotiating table after "months of delay and wasted time," saying the ball is now in Biden's court "to avoid being the first president to default on the national debt."
Republicans say it's irresponsible to raise the limit without cutting spending, but Biden has long insisted on raising it with no strings attached. However, Biden appears to have blinked as the deadline to avoid default approaches as soon as June 1.
The president has rattled some Democrats by signaling willingness to compromise on work requirements for welfare recipients, a "red line" for McCarthy.