President Donald Trump has made it clear Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, not Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, is the administration’s point man regarding the ever approaching debt ceiling.
“Mnuchin is that guy,” Trump told Republican lawmakers at the White House Tuesday.
The U.S. debt ceiling is set to expire in September unless congressional lawmakers can pass a budget to keep the government funded. Mnuchin called on Congress in late May to raise the debt ceiling prior to the August recess.
“I think it’s absolutely important that this is passed before the August recess and the sooner the better,” Mnuchin said in May of Congress raising the debt ceiling before members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Mulvaney is a fiscal policy hawk and a former conservative member of Congress. He differs from the Treasury secretary in a number of ways, including how or if the impending debt ceiling should be addressed immediately.
Mulvaney wants to make debt ceiling and other fiscal reforms indivisible, which is favored by the House Freedom Caucus and other conservative members of Congress. He also does believes, unlike Mnuchin, that if the debt ceiling is not raised by September, the Treasury could still find a prudent way to go about funding its obligations.
“I think Steve Mnuchin is ultimately going to be the person that is going to lead those conversations so we’re going to have to see what he says in terms of the timing,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise told reporters Tuesday after the White House meeting.
The debt ceiling, also referred to as the debt limit, is the legal amount the federal government can borrow to cover its liabilities. Those payments include Social Security and Medicaid, military salaries, interest on the total national debt and other government obligations.
If Congress raises the debt limit, it does not mean the legislative body can spend more money on new programs. Raising the debt ceiling allows the U.S. Treasury to borrow more money to pay for the government’s outstanding obligations.
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