Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday said Congress should agree to increase the nation’s debt ceiling whenever lawmakers approve new spending.
Mr. Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee he would support a “clean” measure to increase the nation’s borrowing limit, and that Congress should pass it sooner rather than later.
“My own opinion is that when we approve spending, we should approve raising the debt ceiling,” Mr. Mnuchin said. “So I’m not sure we need to get rid of it, but like any other business, when you approve spending you have a plan [for] how to finance that spending.”
“And if we want to cut spending, we should cut spending, but that is the time to deal with it,” he said.
Mr. Mnuchin commended a new rule the Democrat-led House approved in January that automatically ties a suspension of the debt limit to the passage of an annual budget resolution.
“So I’ll look forward to if they can pass that or pass a clean debt ceiling quickly,” he said.
The debt limit reset earlier this month after a yearlong holiday that allowed agencies to borrow and spend freely based on bills Congress passed. The national debt recently surpassed $22 trillion.
Mr. Mnuchin said recently he’s suspending payments to two federal retirement funds to push off a potential breach.
“Honoring the full faith and credit of the United States government is one of the most important issues and as Treasury secretary I will do everything in my power to make sure that we honor the full faith and credit,” he said Thursday.
The timing of the 2020 federal spending process means Mr. Mnuchin could get his wish on the debt ceiling this year.
The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated that Treasury would be able to employ those so-called “extraordinary measures” to push off a breach until late September or early October — right around the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
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