Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney warned Wednesday that Congress may have to raise the debt ceiling sooner than previously expected.
“My understanding that the [tax] receipts, currently, are coming in slower than expected and you may soon hear from [Treasury Secretary Steven] Mnuchin about a change in the date,” Mulvaney told the House Budget Committee. “We look forward to working with the Hill on the best way to go about this.”
The debt limit was reinstated in March, but the Treasury Department is using extraordinary measures to avoid a devastating government default. Previous budget estimates projected action would be needed around late September or early October.
Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday that lawmakres should act before they leave for their annual August recess. And he said he wants a so-called clean debt ceiling boost, with no spending cuts or reforms connected to raising the limit.
“I urge you to raise the debt limit before you leave for the summer,” Mnuchin said. “We can all discuss how we cut spending in the future and deal with the budget going forward.”
Mnuchin added that it is “absolutely critical” that “we can raise our debt ceiling to pay our debts.”
The Treasury secretary might find opposition to an easy debt limit boost from House conservatives, who he met with in a closed door meeting Tuesday.
“We believe that the debt ceiling is something we need to address sooner than later,” said House Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a participant in the meeting. “And so hopefully we’ll be taking an official position as the Freedom Caucus shortly.”
Meadows demurred on whether the Freedom Caucus would withhold its votes to increase the government’s borrowing capacity in return for spending cuts, a tactic Republicans have tried before.
Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.