Biden says US debt ceiling deal 'very close'

US President Joe Biden was optimistic about the US averting a technical default. Republicans have refused to raise the nation's debt limit unless Democrats make concessions on spending plans.

Democrats and Republicans appeared closer to a deal on Saturday, in the latest attempt to end a standoff over the US debt ceiling limit. President Joe Biden said an agreement was "very close," while Republican congressional leader Kevin McCarthy acknowledged that a deal was "not there yet," but said he was confident of meeting the latest near-deadline put forward by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, June 5.

"Yes," the House speaker said. "I feel we can get there. I really do. I am an optimist." If reached, the deal would reportedly include an agreement to extend the government's borrowing authority for two years. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday told Congress that the US could default on its debt obligations by June 5, slightly later than the June 1 date she had previously mooted, seemingly to allow time for negotiators to reach a compromise. Yellen again warned that inaction on the debt ceiling would "cause severe hardship."