Policy

Mnuchin Says Sept. 29 Debt Deadline May Move ‘A Couple of Days’

Hurricane Harvey cited as factor

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin testifies during the Senate Budget Committee hearing on the President’’s budget proposals Tuesday, June 13, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he remained confident Congress would vote on a debt limit bill before the government runs out of money to pay the nation’s bills, but he suggested Congress needs to act sooner than the Sept. 29 date he has previously cited.

“The next big cash day for us is obviously Sept. 15 — that’s when we get corporate taxes, so the projections could move around a little bit,” Mnuchin said on CNBC. “We obviously have now the hurricane spending, which is an issue. So that is going to have some impact on our September spending. But, more importantly, we are going to have to go to Congress and get authorization to spend more, because it’s absolutely critical that we spend money to help the state.”

“I think there could be some impact of a couple of days,” he said, when asked how the deadline could change. 

Mnuchin didn’t give a date, but additional costs to fund hurricane recovery measures and lower-than-expected tax receipts suggest the deadline would come sooner than Sept. 29. 

The previous debt ceiling extension expired on March 15. The Treasury Department has since been using so-called extraordinary measures to pay the country’s bills. Mnuchin sent a letter to House Speaker Paul D. Ryan in late July saying those extraordinary measures would last until Sept. 29.

But lawmakers may now have less time to reach a consensus on a debt limit bill, hold votes in each chamber and get the measure to the president’s desk. If the federal government were to reach the limit or go past that date, the U.S. would default.

Republicans have been debating how to address the debt limit for months. President Donald Trump, Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and congressional Democrats have all called for a clean debt limit bill. But several conservative Republicans have demanded the debt limit be tied to conditions, such as decreases in future spending.

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