Mnuchin wants ‘clean debt-ceiling’ bill

Mnuchin wants ‘clean debt-ceiling’ bill
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a House panel on Thursday he wants a clean debt-ceiling bill, appearing to settle a dispute within the White House over the administration’s strategy.

Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee that no policy riders should be attached to legislation increasing the nation’s borrowing authority. 

The Treasury secretary added that he and White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, who had previously called for adding spending reforms to a debt-ceiling bill, are now "on the same page."

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President Trump "has been very clear that I'm responsible for the debt ceiling and my position has been that I believe there should be clean debt ceiling,” Mnuchin said.

In previous congressional testimony, Mnuchin had said he preferred a "clean" increase without any amendments attached.

When it comes to timing, Mnuchin told the panel that he is "comfortable we can fund the government through end of September."

Mnuchin said he had no plans to prioritize some bills over others, meaning Congress is unlikely to get extra time on the clock if lawmakers run up against Treasury's deadline to raise the nation's borrowing limit. 

"I have no intent on prioritizing, I think that doesn't make sense," Mnuchin said. "The government should honor all of its obligations and the debt limit should be raised."

In 2013, then-Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden argues for legislative patience, urgent action amid crisis On The Money: Senate confirms Yellen as first female Treasury secretary | Biden says he's open to tighter income limits for stimulus checks | Administration will look to expedite getting Tubman on bill Sorry Mr. Jackson, Tubman on the is real MORE said prioritizing is another name for default, because it would mean not paying some obligations. 

The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Treasury can fund the government through around mid-October.

If the U.S. fails to pay its bills, it would mean a default that would damage the economy and roil global markets. 

The Republican Study Committee, a conservative group comprising more than half of all GOP House members, is renewing its push for sweeping changes that would require the federal government to pay its debt, interest and Social Security obligations, even if the debt ceiling is reached.

Responding to a question about permanently repealing the debt limit, Mnuchin acknowledged that changes need to be made to the debt-ceiling process — but he refused to endorse a strategy. 

"I think we've got to look at this and I agree there should be a change going forward, we're obviously not going to address this now," he told the panel. 

“I'm all for there should be very strict controls of spending money, but once we’ve agreed to spend the money we should make sure the government can pay for it.”