Yellen Says US Will Run Out of Money to Pay Bills on June 5 Absent Debt Limit Deal

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Friday warned Congress that the United States government will run out of money to pay its bills on June 5 if lawmakers don’t reach an agreement to raise the nation’s debt ceiling.

“Based on the most recent available data, we now estimate that Treasury will have insufficient resources to satisfy the government’s obligations if Congress has not raised or suspended the debt limit by June 5,” Yellen wrote in a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

“We have learned from past debt limit impasses that waiting until the last minute to suspend or increase the debt limit can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers, and negatively impact the credit rating of the United States,” Yellen noted. “In fact, we have already seen Treasury’s borrowing costs increase substantially for securities maturing in early June.”

Earlier this month, Yellen said that the so-called “X-date”—the day on which the first-ever U.S. default will occur—could come as early as June 1.

“If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, it would cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position, and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests,” she stressed in Friday’s letter.

As The New York Times notes:

Ms. Yellen’s letter comes as the White House and House Republicans have been racing to agree on a deal that would lift the nation’s $31.4 trillion borrowing cap and prevent the United States from defaulting on its debt. The Treasury Department hit the debt limit on January 19 and has since been employing accounting maneuvers to ensure the United States can continue paying its bills on time…

On Friday, she detailed that the federal government is due to make more than $130 billion in scheduled payments during the first two days of June—including payments to veterans and Social Security and Medicare recipients—leaving the Treasury Department with “an extremely low level of resources”…

While negotiators have been in round-the-clock talks, no deal has been announced. Still, the contours of an agreement between the White House and Republicans are taking shape. That deal would raise the debt limit for two years while imposing strict caps on discretionary spending not related to the military or veterans for the same period.

Biden administration officials and congressional Democrats have accused Republicans of “hostage-taking” during the debt limit standoff, an allegation embraced by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) earlier this week.

Scores of Democratic lawmakers and progressive advocates have called on President Joe Biden to exercise his constitutional authority and invoke the 14th Amendment—which states in part that “the validity of the public debt of the United States… shall not be questioned.”

However, Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said Friday that Biden will not invoke the 14th Amendment.

“The 14th Amendment can’t solve our challenges,” Adeyemo asserted on CNN. “Now, ultimately, the only thing that can do that is Congress doing what it’s done 78 other times, raising the debt limit.”

“We don’t have a Plan B that allows us to meet the commitments that we’ve made to our creditors, to our seniors, to our veterans, to the American people,” Adeyemo added ominously.

 

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