U.S.

The US will hit the debt limit on January 19, Yellen told Congress


WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned Friday that she would have to begin implementing “emergency measures” to continue paying the nation’s bills this month if lawmakers did not act to raise the statutory debt limit and that its powers to defer default could run out by early June.

Ms. Yellen’s letter to Congress was the first sign that House Republican resistance to lifting the borrowing ceiling could put the US economy at risk and signaled the start of an intense fight in Washington this year over spending and deficits.

“The government’s default would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy, the livelihoods of all Americans, and global financial stability,” Ms. Yellen wrote.

The Treasury secretary said there was significant uncertainty about how long she could use default delay measures and that she would keep Congress informed of the fiscal situation. Ms. Yellen said she would initiate a freeze on new investments in the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefit Fund and a freeze on reinvestment of the System’s Thrift Savings Plan’s Treasury Investment Fund for federal employee retirement later this month to avoid breaching the debt limit.

A White House spokesman declined immediate comment Friday but said Karin Jean-Pierre, the press secretary, would likely address the matter at an afternoon news briefing. Ms. Jean-Pierre has repeatedly said that President Biden will not negotiate with congressional Republicans on the debt limit, despite their calls to tie raising the limit to federal spending cuts

“Congress will have to raise the debt limit without conditions,” Ms. Jean-Pierre told reporters traveling with Mr. Biden to Texas on Air Force One last week. “There will be no hostage taking.”


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