US could default within weeks absent action on debt limit: analysis

The U.S. could default within weeks if Congress doesn't take action to address the debt limit, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) said Friday.

BPC projects that the "X date" when the U.S. would be unable to meet all of its obligations will most likely take place between Dec. 21-Jan. 28. That range is narrower than the think tank's previous estimate of mid-December to early February.

BPC urged Congress to raise or suspend the debt limit before it leaves Washington for the year.


“Those who believe the debt limit can safely be pushed to the back of the December legislative pileup are misinformed,” Shai Akabas, BPC director of economic policy, said in a news release. “Congress would be flirting with financial disaster if it leaves for the holiday recess without addressing the debt limit.”

Congress passed a $480 billion debt limit increase in mid-October, and the U.S. hit the new limit later that month. The Treasury Department has been using "extraordinary measures" since then to prevent a default.

Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet YellenYellen says Biden's COVID-19 relief bill 'acted like a vaccine for the American economy' On the Money — Yellen highlights wealth gap in MLK speech Yellen: US has 'much more work' to close racial wealth gap MORE has urged Congress to raise the debt limit by Dec. 15, the date when Treasury is completing a $118 billion transfer to the Highway Trust Fund under the bipartisan infrastructure law President BidenJoe BidenPredictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure A review of President Biden's first year on border policy  Vilsack accuses China of breaking commitments in Trump-era trade deal MORE signed last month. Yellen said at a congressional hearing this week that there is uncertainty about what the Treasury's cash balances would be after that date.

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Predictions of disaster for Democrats aren't guarantees of midterm failure Voting rights and Senate wrongs MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden stiff arms progressives on the Postal Service Biden clarifies any Russian movement into Ukraine 'is an invasion' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks, Senate balks MORE (R-Ky.) have been having discussions to figure out a path forward on the debt limit, but have yet to announce an agreement.