Biden Set To Leave Country for Eight-Day Asia Trip With Debt Ceiling Talks Unresolved, Default on Horizon

Apology Tour 2.0? Biden will start trip off with stop in Hiroshima to meet with atomic bomb victims

President Joe Biden waves goodbye / Getty Images
May 16, 2023

President Joe Biden is scheduled to depart on Wednesday for an eight-day trip to Asia even as the White House has failed to reach an agreement with Congress over the debt ceiling, which must be resolved by June 1 for the United States to avoid defaulting on its loans.

Biden isn't scheduled to return until just before Memorial Day weekend, leaving only the few days surrounding the holiday weekend for him to reach an agreement with congressional leaders. The visit conflicts with the president's claim last week that the debt ceiling issue is the "single most important thing that's on the agenda." The White House and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are at odds over GOP-backed spending caps and efforts by Republicans to overturn Biden's Inflation Reduction Act and other spending programs.

Biden's first stop will be in Hiroshima, Japan, where he will meet with victims of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States to defeat Japan in World War II and save millions of lives around the world.

Biden has given no indication that he will cancel the Asia trip, which includes a visit to the Group of 7 summit in Japan, even as the default deadline looms.

In addition to meeting with world leaders for economic discussions in Hiroshima, Biden also plans to visit Australia and Papua New Guinea—areas where China has been making strategic inroads. Beijing and Papua New Guinea signed a security agreement last month, while Australia has been working to improve its relations with China, its largest trading partner.

Biden will meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.), House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D., N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the trip.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.