Mnuchin asks Congress to raise debt ceiling 'as soon as possible'

Mnuchin asks Congress to raise debt ceiling 'as soon as possible'
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump: China tariffs will remain for 'substantial period of time' even with deal Pompeo presses for resolution to Gulf dispute On The Money: Trump issues first veto, warning of 'reckless' resolution | US hits Russia with new sanctions | Dems renew push for contractor back pay | Lawmakers seek probe into undocumented workers at Trump businesses MORE on Monday urged congressional leaders to raise the federal debt limit “as soon as possible” as the department begins accounting maneuvers to prevent a default.

Mnuchin wrote in a March 4 letter to top lawmakers that the Treasury Department had begun a “debt issuance suspension period” to avoid missing a debt payment, and asked for swift action to raise the cap on federal debt.

“I respectfully urge Congress to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by acting to increase the statutory debt limit as soon as possible,” Mnuchin wrote to Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiRisk-averse Republicans are failing the republic The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Dems put manufacturing sector in 2020 spotlight Trump, Saturday Night Live and why autocrats can't take a joke MORE (D-Calif.) and seven other congressional leaders.

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The recipients include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOvernight Energy: McConnell tees up vote on Green New Deal | Centrist Dems pitch alternative to plan | House Republican likens Green New Deal to genocide | Coca-Cola reveals it uses 3M tons of plastic every year House GOP lawmaker says Green New Deal is like genocide GOP lawmakers: House leaders already jockeying for leadership contests MORE (R-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral GOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' McConnell calls McCain a 'rare patriot' and 'American hero' after Trump criticism MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP senator: Trump's criticism of McCain 'deplorable' Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Why we need to build gateway now MORE (D-N.Y.), and the chairmen and ranking members of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee.

The legal limit on how much the federal government can owe creditors, known as the “debt ceiling,” was reimposed Saturday after a one-year suspension ran out on March 2. The Treasury Department has begun a series of financial and accounting moves called “extraordinary measures” to prevent the U.S. from breaching the debt ceiling.

Those maneuvers should give lawmakers and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump mocks wind power: 'When the wind doesn't blow, just turn off the television' Pentagon investigator probing whether acting chief boosted former employer Boeing Trump blasts McCain, bemoans not getting 'thank you' for funeral MORE until September to reach a deal, according to recent estimates, though the exact deadline is uncertain.

Members of both parties are eager to prevent the U.S. from defaulting on its debt, which could trigger a global economic meltdown. Even so, it's unclear how party leaders plan to raise the debt ceiling and whether it will be entangled in testy government funding negotiations.

Mnuchin wrote in the Monday letter that Treasury had halted investments in certain benefits funds for federal workers and retirees to avoid exceeding the debt limit. The secretary said federal employees and retirees who receive benefits from those funds should be unaffected.