WH budget director confident Congress can strike debt-limit deal

White House budget director Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mathews BurwellHHS projects 13.8M ObamaCare signups for 2017 Republicans demand documents from insurers on ObamaCare 'bailout' Top health officials: Funding delay hurt Zika response MORE 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.”

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.