WH budget director confident Congress can strike debt-limit deal

White House budget director Sylvia Burwell predicts Congress will agree in the next few weeks to raise the debt ceiling before the government loses its borrowing power. 

Burwell said the $1.1 trillion budget deal Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) struck with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in December signaled both parties are willing to work together. 

"How is it going to happen? I think it is going to happen," Burwell told Reuters in an interview. “We've gotten there twice before, and I think we will get there.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Republicans are expected to debate the issue of the debt limit at their three-day annual retreat in Maryland on Friday. 

Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, said on CNN Thursday that the debt-limit fight is an opportunity to discuss longer-term solutions.

“We will not default on our bonds as a country," Ryan said. "We know that's not a good idea, but we don't want to let the moment pass by without having a conversation about how can we make some improvements so we don't keep having these big debt-ceiling problems day after day or year after year." 

Congress suspended the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit until Feb. 7 in a deal to end the government shutdown in October.

Last week, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew urged lawmakers in a letter to raise the ceiling by late February. He had originally predicted the nation would default as late as early March.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) admitted this week that House Republicans probably won’t receive any concessions from the White House as a result of a debt-limit deal.