On the brink of US debt default, Republican and Democrat Congressmen continue to wage war against each other. The battle moved to Congress on Sunday, where the debate promises to be tense and the outcome still uncertain.

After marathon negotiations, President Joe Biden and Republican congressional leader Kevin McCarthy announced on Saturday evening an agreement in principle to raise the US debt ceiling, thereby averting the threat of bankruptcy as early as 5 June.

But the agreement must be approved by a divided Congress, and is already the subject of a rebellion by progressive and conservative elected representatives, some of whom are calling it a “capitulation”.

“It may not satisfy everyone, but it’s a step in the right direction that no one expected”, Republican leader Kevin McCarthy defended himself on Fox News on Sunday, praising the “historic” reduction in public spending.

President Biden also welcomed the “compromise” on Saturday evening, which is “good news, because it avoids what would have been a catastrophic default”.

The text of the agreement has not yet been disclosed, but it raises the US public debt ceiling for two years, i.e. until after the 2024 presidential election. This is currently set at 31,400 billion dollars.

In addition, new rules will apply to access to certain federal aid programs, but according to a source close to the negotiations, the agreement protects the Inflation Reduction Act and the student debt relief plan signed by Mr Biden.

Mr Biden and Mr McCarthy are staking their political credentials on these negotiations.

The former, who is up for re-election, must avoid a bankruptcy with potentially catastrophic consequences, while the latter is seeking to establish his authority after being poorly elected to the perch earlier this year.

Maïssa Ben Fares, with AFP

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