The White House on Friday called for the debt limit to be raised without conditions, laying down a marker ahead of what is likely to be a bruising fight with House Republicans in the coming months.
“We believe, when it comes to the debt limit, it has been done in a bipartisan way over the years and decades. And it should be done in a bipartisan way. And it should be done without conditions. That is important here,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Jean-Pierre’s comments came shortly after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote to Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to warn the U.S. is projected to reach its roughly $31.4 trillion borrowing limit in less than a week, and the department would have to soon begin taking “extraordinary measures” to buy time for Congress to avoid default.
Those measures would likely buy lawmakers until early June to reach a deal, Yellen said.
Republicans are expected to use the looming debt default to try to secure cuts or reforms to government spending. A push among several conservatives for promised spending cuts was central to the fight last week over electing McCarthy Speaker, though many in the GOP have tried to distance themselves from talk of cutting Social Security or Medicare, two popular programs.
But Jean-Pierre has been clear that the White House is not interested in engaging in those discussions, and any such proposals that pass the GOP-controlled House are unlikely to get through the Democratic-controlled Senate. White House officials have warned that a U.S. default would could have catastrophic consequences for the economy.
“This is not political gamesmanship,” Jean-Pierre said. “This should be done without conditions. And that’s how we see this process moving forward.”
She added that there are no current discussions about eliminating the debt limit entirely, something for which Yellen has previously advocated.
Lawmakers last voted to raise the debt ceiling in December 2021 with a measure that passed the then-Democratic House on a largely party-line vote.