Washington DC May 21 2023: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that early June is a "hard deadline" for the federal government to raise the debt ceiling and warned that bills will go unpaid if Congress fails to reach a deal before the U.S. runs out of money in an exclusive interview on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“I indicated in my last letter to Congress that we expect to be unable to pay all of our bills in early June and possibly as soon as June 1. And I will continue to update Congress, but I certainly haven’t changed my assessment,” Yellen said. “So I think that that’s a hard deadline.”
Asked by NBC News' Chuck Todd if the country can stretch to June 15 before defaulting on its debts, Yellen said the possibility is "quite low."
"Well, there’s always uncertainty about tax receipts and spending," she said. "And so it’s hard to be absolutely certain about this, but my assessment is that the odds of reaching June 15th, while being able to pay all of our bills, is quite low."
Yellen warned that some of the country’s bills will go unpaid if the debt ceiling isn’t raised.
“Well, we take the debt ceiling seriously as a constraint on our ability to pay bills that are coming due,” she said. “And my assumption is that if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, there will be hard choices to make about what bills go unpaid.”
The White House and Republican negotiators remain deadlocked on a deal to raise the debt ceiling after weeks of negotiations. House Republicans want to force major spending cuts that Biden and congressional Democrats oppose, making it unlikely to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Biden has continued to track negotiations on a bipartisan budget framework and pressing the need for Congress to act to avert default while he attends the G-7 summit in Japan, a White House official told reporters Saturday.
The president has directed his team to coordinate with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to schedule a call for Sunday morning following his meetings at the G-7, the official said.
The president opened his press conference at the G-7 by urging Republicans to “move from their extreme positions” which he criticized as “frankly unacceptable.”
“It’s time for Republicans to accept that there is no bipartisan deal to be made solely solely on their partisan terms,” he said. “They have to move as well.”
McCarthy tweeted Saturday evening: "Biden doesn’t think there is a single dollar of savings to be found in the federal government’s budget."
"He’d rather be the first president in history to default on the debt than to risk upsetting the radical socialists who are calling the shots for Democrats right now," McCarthy added.