As the deadline to raise the debt ceiling and avoid an economic crisis gets closer, doing so without spending cuts is not an option, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Monday.
"Addressing the debt requires us to come together, find common ground and reduce spending," Mr. McCarthy said during a speech at the New York Stock Exchange. "Defaulting on our debt is not an option. But neither is a future of higher taxes, higher interest rates, higher inflation, more dependence on China and an economy that doesn't work for working Americans."
He added, "Let me be clear: A no-strings-attached debt limit increase cannot pass."
The debt limit or debt ceiling — the terms are used interchangeably — is a cap on the money the U.S. government can borrow to pay its bills. It does not authorize any new spending, but it allows the Treasury Department to finance the existing legal obligations already approved by Congress. The debt limit was last raised in December 2021 and stands at $31.4 trillion.
The federal government hit its statutory debt limit in January, and Treasury might be out of options to pay the nation's bills come late summer or early fall.
The U.S. has never failed to raise the debt ceiling, but with a divided government in Washington, congressional Republicans are calling for spending cuts to reduce deficit spending.
The White House has not changed its position and said it will not negotiate around the debt ceiling.
"Speaker McCarthy is breaking with the bipartisan norm he followed under Trump by engaging in dangerous economic hostage-taking that threatens hardworking Americans' jobs and retirement savings," said Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, in a statement Monday. Congress raised the debt ceiling three times without issue during President Donald Trump's term.
Without providing specifics, Mr. McCarthy said the House will vote in "the coming weeks" on a bill to "lift the debt ceiling into next year, save taxpayers trillions of dollars, make us less dependent on China, and curb high inflation — all without touching Social Security or Medicare."
Such a bill is unlikely to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate and would almost certainly be vetoed by President Joe Biden.