By Trevor Hunnicutt
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Joe Biden on Saturday signed a bill that suspends the $31.4 trillion U.S. government debt ceiling, averting what would have been a first-ever default with just two days to spare.
The House of Representatives and Senate passed the legislation this week after Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy reached an agreement after tense negotiations.
The Treasury Department had warned that it would not be able to pay all of its bills on Monday if Congress had not acted by then.
Biden signed the bill at the White House a day after hailing it as a bipartisan triumph in his first-ever Oval Office address to the nation as president.
The signing of the bill, which was closed to the press, marked a symbolic and low-key end to a crisis that has vexed Washington for months, forced Biden to cut short an international trip to Asia and threatened to push the United States on the brink of an unprecedented economic crisis.
“Thank you to President McCarthy, Chief Jeffries, Chief Schumer and Chief McConnell for their partnership,” the White House said in a statement announcing the signing of the bill, naming the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. .
Officials then released a ten-second clip of Biden silently signing the document at the White House.
“It was critical to get a deal, and that’s really good news for the American people,” Biden said on Friday. “Nobody got everything they wanted. But the American people got what they needed.”
The Republican-controlled House voted 314 to 117 to approve the bill, and the Democratic-controlled Senate voted 63 to 36.
Fitch Ratings said on Friday that the United States’ “AAA” credit rating would remain on negative watch, despite the agreement which will allow the government to meet its obligations.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Nick Zieminski)