U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stepped up pressure on lawmakers to raise the government’s borrowing limit, even as House members left town for their five-week recess.
In a letter Friday to legislators in both chambers, Mnuchin urged Congress to increase the debt ceiling before Sept. 29 when he estimates the government will no longer have the cash flow to pay its bills. With Republicans facing a stalled legislative agenda, the Senate is scheduled to stay in session two more weeks before their summer break.
“It is critical that Congress act,” he wrote.
Mnuchin has repeatedly asked lawmakers to lift the borrowing limit as soon as possible, urging Senators and House members in separate hearings this week to do so before Congress’s summer recess. Both the House and Senate return to Washington on Sept. 5.
According to Mnuchin’s timeline, that leaves less than a month for Congress to raise the borrowing limit to avert a debt default. A political showdown on the debt ceiling that put the U.S. on the brink of default in 2011 led to a downgrade of the country’s credit rating.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates the Treasury can fund the government through early- to mid-October under the current borrowing limit. Treasury has been relying on special accounting maneuvers since March to stay under the nearly $20 trillion debt cap.
The Treasury will continue suspending investments in federal pension plans as authorized by law as a temporary measure to help stay under the debt cap, Mnuchin said in the letter.
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