Yellen calls debt ceiling ‘constraint’ on nation’s ability to pay its bills

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Sunday that the debt ceiling is a “constraint” on the country’s ability to pay.

“We take the debt ceiling seriously as a constraint on our ability to pay bills that are coming due. My guess is they will,” Yellen said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Treasury Secretary underscored the dire situation of the debt ceiling, stressing the looming June deadline that he expects the Treasury Department may not be able to stem defaults.

“If Congress doesn’t raise this debt ceiling, will it allow some defaults?” moderator Chuck Todd asked Yellen on Sunday.

“In principle, interest must be paid on outstanding debts. We also have obligations to the elderly who rely on Social Security, the military who expect salaries, and contractors who provide services to the federal government. Yes, and some bills have to go unpaid,” Yellen responded.

“Have you decided which bill yet?” asked Todd.

“I would say we’re focused on raising the debt ceiling, and if that doesn’t happen, we’re going to have tough choices to make.” “There can be no acceptable outcome unless the debt ceiling is raised.”

Negotiations between Congress and the White House have stalled, and President Biden recently cut short a trip to return to the United States to resume direct negotiations on the debt ceiling with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Republican, California).

Yellen also said on Sunday there was “a lot of debate” about whether Biden might use the 14th Amendment to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling without Congress, but “such I don’t think it can be used appropriately in the situation.” Given the legal uncertainty surrounding it and the tight deadlines we are working towards.”

“Not being able to pay our bills is not an acceptable situation for us,” the Treasury Secretary said.

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