(KTXL) — Hundreds of Sacramento-area business and political leaders spent one final full day in Washington D.C. to meet with government officials and secure federal funding for our region.

But it was a special appearance from U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen that garnered national attention.

Secretary Yellen did not beat around the bush, her message to Congress was very clear: either increase the U.S. debt limit now or risk dark days ahead.

“Our economic recovery has been a collective effort,” Yellen said.

During her remarks, Yellen said the U.S. economy has strengthened since the worst days of the pandemic, but she added that could all change if Congress does not raise the debt ceiling, also known as the debt limit, the amount of money Congress allows the federal government to borrow in order to pay the country’s bills and meet its legal obligations.

Right now, the limit is $31.4 trillion. Yellen said if that figure is not increased, the U.S. may soon not be able to pay all of the money it owes.

“Since 1789, the United States has paid all of our bills on time, and it should stay that way. In my assessment, and that of our economists across the board, a default on our debt would create an economic and financial catastrophe,” Yellen said.

“Many residents could ultimately lose their jobs. Household payments on mortgages, auto loans, and credit cards would rise, and American businesses would see credit markets deteriorate,” Yellen elaborated. “On top of that, it’s unlikely the federal government would be able to issue payments to millions of Americans, including our military veterans and seniors who rely on social security.”

But Republicans stress any deal on the debt ceiling must also include fiscal responsibility — something they argue this administration has not prioritized.

“It is reckless spending on an unprecedented level, and they are doing enormous damage to the economy,” Rep. Tom McClintock said.

But the administration at the White House begs to differ. Yellen said the president has signed several pieces of legislation into law to help the economy.

Sacramento Congresswoman Doris Matsui agrees. She helped lead the effort to write, pass, and sign the Chips Act into law.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Matsui said.

That is because she says the legislation includes $280 billion to increase investments for increased U.S. manufacturing of semiconductors found in all kinds of items and technologies.

“These chips are in everything; they’re in our phones, our refrigerators, our cars, everything,” Matsui said.

And that is why she says amid a semiconductor chip shortage, the bipartisan Chips Act will create tech jobs here all while making the U.S. less reliant on foreign nations.

“This is going to be a generational change that’s going to put this country on the path it needs to go,” Matsui said.