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Lawmakers warn U.S. may pass debt ceiling sooner than expected

By
Clyde Hughes
President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin walk to a meeting at the U.S. Treasury Department building in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI/Pool
President Donald Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin walk to a meeting at the U.S. Treasury Department building in Washington, D.C. File Photo by Shawn Thew/UPI/Pool | License Photo

July 10 (UPI) -- Revenues at the U.S. Treasury Department have so far fallen short of projections, leading to fears the United States may breach its debt ceiling far sooner than first expected, a new analysis shows.

The U.S. government could exceed its borrowing limit in mid-September before Congress is scheduled to return from summer recess, the Bipartisan Policy Center said in a study this week.

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The Washington think tank said sluggish revenues so far in fiscal 2019 and Republicans' sweeping tax reform two years ago are primarily responsible for the looming deadline.

Shai Akabas, director of economic policy at the center, said Congress would be "reckless" if it waits until September to fix the problem.

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"'X Date' could fall in early September, particularly if federal revenues underperform," Akabas said. "The alignment of certain payments in the first two weeks of the month, prior to when Treasury will receive a cash influx of quarterly tax payments, could exhaust Treasury's borrowing room.

Akabas said the center still expects the debt ceiling to arrive in October, but "uncertainty is high."

The center warned Congress in March the 2017 tax cuts would result in fewer Americans filing their tax returns by the mid-April deadline -- and, as a result, less revenue.

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Senate finance committee Chairman Chuck Grassley has said it's unlikely Congress will deal with the debt limit until fiscal 2020 begins Oct. 1. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a member of the Senate appropriations committee, said Tuesday that timeline may now be out the window.

"I think we need to hustle to a caps deal as soon as we possibly can and include the debt limit in it, no doubt," she said.

"The question is, will anybody act until the urgency is on top of us?" panel chairman Richard Shelby added. "We need to avoid the brink."

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