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U.S. hits debt limit; Yellen says Treasury to begin 'extraordinary measures'

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed Congress Thursday that she is implementing "extraordinary measures" to meet U.S. financial obligations after the nation hit its debt limit. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed Congress Thursday that she is implementing "extraordinary measures" to meet U.S. financial obligations after the nation hit its debt limit. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The United States hit the national debt limit of $31.4 trillion Thursday, which requires Congress to increase it in order to meet existing national financial obligations.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen notified congressional leaders in a letter that she is implementing "extraordinary measures" to meet those payments.

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"I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States," Yellen wrote to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif..

House Republicans have indicated they will demand deep spending cuts before agreeing to raise the debt ceiling while the Biden administration wants the debt ceiling raised without conditions.

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Last Friday, Yellen warned congressional leadership that failure to raise the limit in time would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy.

Despite that warning and the fact that raising the debt limit is a routine action that has happened under both Democratic and Republican presidents, McCarthy told reporters this week raising the limit without cutting spending is off the table.

During a Wednesday briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Republicans "are threatening to kill millions of jobs and 401(k) plans by trying to hold the debt limit hostage unless they can, again, cut Social Security, cut Medicare, cut Medicaid."

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She said the Biden administration will not negotiate and the debt limit should be raised without conditions.

Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden "will not allow Republicans to take the economy hostage or make working Americans pay the price for their schemes to benefit the wealthiest Americans and also special interests."

According to Yellen, it's not clear exactly how long government cash and extraordinary measures can work to fulfill the nation's economic obligations but said it's unlikely resources will be exhausted "before early June."

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