Yellen says US is projected to hit debt ceiling on Jan. 19

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. is projected to reach its roughly $31.4 trillion borrowing limit in less than a week.

Yellen shared the estimate in a letter to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Friday. She also warned the department would soon have to begin taking “extraordinary measures” to stave off a default to buy time for Congress to find a bipartisan solution.

Those measures include temporarily redeeming existing and suspending new investments of the Civil Service, Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund, as well as suspending reinvestment of the Government Securities Investment Fund of the Federal Employees Retirement System Thrift Savings Plan.

Yellen added that the funds would be “made whole” after the debt limit impasse has ended. 

While the secretary said it’s unlikely cash and extraordinary measures will run out before early June, she stressed the measures will only last for “a limited amount of time” and pressed for Congress to “act in a timely manner” to raise or suspend the ceiling.

The letter to McCarthy comes as a high-stakes fight over raising the debt ceiling looms over the further Congress after Republicans took back control of the lower chamber last week.

McCarthy has pressed for any action to address the debt ceiling to be tied to spending cuts sought by Republicans. However, proposals for significant cuts are likely to find trouble in the Senate, where Democrats still hold control.

“If you’re going to ask for an increase in the limit, at some point in time, you’ve got to sit down and say why are we hitting the limit? Why are we maxing out the credit card?” House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) told reporters earlier this week.

Tags debt ceiling showdown Janet Yellen Janet Yellen Kevin McCarthy Kevin McCarthy Steve Scalise

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