Congress pushes for debt ceiling deal to avoid default on US debt

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., holds her weekly news conference in the Capitol on Thursday, July 11, 2019.

Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images

Congress will have to scramble to raise the U.S. debt limit and avoid a potential default that would rattle the world economy.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would like to vote on a bill to hike the debt ceiling by July 26 — the chamber’s last day of activity before an August recess. She hopes it would give the Senate enough time to pass legislation before it leaves the following week.

Of course, negotiators in Washington will first have to find an agreement that can get through both chambers of Congress. Pelosi said she hopes lawmakers and the White House can reach a deal by Friday, which would allow them to post legislative text over the weekend.

She and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin earlier Wednesday. While officials have cited progress in the talks, sticking points remain.

“It’s all about money, right?” Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday.

The House speaker and Treasury secretary have discussed a two-year budget deal that would also raise the U.S borrowing limit. The issue took on more urgency last week, when Mnuchin wrote to Congress saying the Treasury Department could run out of cash “in early September, before Congress reconvenes.”

Lawmakers hope to avoid a government shutdown before they leave, as current government funding expires at the end of September. Democrats want to strike a budget deal to avoid automatic across the board spending cuts known as sequestration.

A two-year spending agreement tied to a debt ceiling increase would accomplish all of those in one swoop. Democrats have opposed a short-term debt limit hike.

If America defaulted on its debt, it could send shock waves through the global economy and financial markets. Even a less disruptive government shutdown could drag on U.S. economic growth.

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