Business & Lobbying

CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis'

The Business Roundtable on Wednesday sent a letter to congressional leaders warning that they could create an economic crisis if they fail to swiftly raise the debt limit. 

The lobbying group, which represents CEOs at some of the nation's largest companies, is among the first high-profile business organizations to publicly weigh in on the debt ceiling, indicating that Congress's inaction on the issue is making corporate America nervous.

"Failure to lift the U.S. federal debt limit to meet U.S. obligations would produce an otherwise avoidable crisis and pose unacceptable risk to the nation's economic growth, job creation and financial markets," Business Roundtable CEO Joshua Bolten and Walmart CEO Doug McMillon wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

The executives wrote that continued inaction on the debt limit could cause an erosion of the nation's credit rating that would saddle the federal government and U.S. corporations with higher borrowing costs amid a deadly pandemic. 

The urgency comes as lawmakers refuse to come to an agreement on how to raise the debt limit, despite Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's warning that the federal government will default on its debt sometime next month if Congress doesn't take action.

"A delay that calls into question the federal government's ability to meet all its obligations would likely cause irreparable damage to the U.S. economy," Yellen warned lawmakers last week.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Tuesday that Republicans will block a vote to raise the debt ceiling because doing so would allow Democrats to pass their $3.5 trillion spending package. They're demanding that Democrats cut spending before the Senate approves a measure to expand the federal government's borrowing authority.

Democratic leaders have ruled out including a measure to raise the debt ceiling in their $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which Republicans cannot filibuster. They're insisting on a bipartisan vote to put maximum political pressure on GOP senators.