Biden hails debt ceiling deal from Oval Office

STORY: President Joe Biden says he’ll sign the bill on Saturday to suspend the US government’s $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.

He made the announcement on Friday in his first-ever prime-time address from the Oval Office.

It's an occasion previous presidents only reserved for moments when the nation was in crisis.

The White House says Biden spoke there because of the gravity of the situation had the debt ceiling not been raised.

“The stakes could not have been higher if we had failed to reach an agreement on the budget. There were extreme voices threatening to take America for the first time in our 247 year history and a default on our national debt. Nothing, nothing would have been more irresponsible.”

Joe Biden signing the bill would end months of uncertainty and avert what could have been the first-ever US default as early as next week.

Republicans refused to increase the debt ceiling for months, and asked Democrats to cut spending in the 2024 budget.

Both parties cobbled together an 11th hour deal to suspend the debt limit until January 2025, and it passed through the Senate and the House this week.

Biden, a Democrat, offered praise to Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who was his primary negotiator.

“It was critical to reach an agreement, and it's very good news for the American people. No one got everything they wanted. But the American people got what they needed.”

Despite the Treasury meeting its debt obligations, the possibility of another US credit rating downgrade is still on the cards.

After the last rating cut in 2011, U.S. stocks tumbled and a chill was felt across global markets.

Fitch Ratings said on Friday the United States’ “AAA” rating remains on negative watch. It cited repeated political standoffs and last-minute suspensions for “lowering confidence in governance on fiscal and debt matters”.