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Biden to laud ‘crisis averted’ from debt ceiling deal in first Oval Office address


By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will declare a “crisis averted” on Friday in his first address from the White House’s Oval Office to tout the passage of a bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and curb spending.

Biden, a Democrat, will speak at 7 p.m. ET (2300 GMT) about the issue, which has dominated Washington and roiled investors in recent weeks but had little impact to date on most American voters.

After nail-biting negotiations, both the Senate and the House of Representatives passed a bill that lifts the government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling, averting what would have been a first-ever default as early as June 5.

“Essential to all the progress we’ve made in the last few years is keeping the full faith and credit of the United States and passing a budget that continues to grow our economy and reflects our values as a nation,” Biden will say, according to excerpts released ahead of time by the White House.

“And that’s why I’m speaking to you tonight. To report on a crisis averted and what we are doing to protect America’s future. Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher.”

Fitch Ratings said on Friday the United States’ “AAA” credit rating would remain on negative watch, despite the agreement that will allow the government to meet its obligations.

U.S. presidents have generally reserved an address from the Oval Office for the most significant, and dramatic of events: the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, for example, or the Challenger space shuttle explosion.

The White House said Biden was making his remarks there because of the gravity of the situation had the debt ceiling not been raised.

Former President Ronald Reagan spoke to the nation from the Oval Office after the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986; and former President George W. Bush used the venue to address the country after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Former President Barack Obama made remarks from the Oval Office in the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast.

Biden, who came into office in January 2021, has spoken before to the nation during ‘primetime’ hours, including his State of the Union addresses from the Capitol and a speech from the White House East Room during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Friday night address is his first from the Oval Office, a setting that highlights the power and authority of the presidency, as Biden seeks a second term against a growing field of Republican candidates.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons, Alistair Bell and Diane Craft)

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