US hits $31.4 trillion debt ceiling as Treasury announces 'extraordinary measures' to avoid default

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote about the U.S. had reached the debt limit in a letter Thursday to members of Congressional leadership. 

Published: January 19, 2023 10:14am

Updated: January 19, 2023 11:56am

The United States reached its debt ceiling of $31.38 trillion on Thursday, forcing the Treasury Department to implement "extraordinary measures" to avoid defaulting on bonds.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote how the U.S. had reached the debt limit in a letter Thursday to members of Congressional leadership. 

The Treasury Department will be unable to fulfill some investments such as the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund, Yellen said. She instituted a "debt issuance suspension period" from Thursday through June 5.

"[T]he period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty," Yellen said. "I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the full faith and credit of the United States."

Congress last increased the debt ceiling in December 2021, when both chambers were under Democratic control.

Some Republicans, such as Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, have said they are against raising the debt limit.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) retweeted posts from his GOP colleagues on Wednesday calling to rein in spending and work with Democrats to do so.

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-N.Y.) criticized Democrats for not raising the debt limit while they were in power. 

"If Democrats don’t want to negotiate with @HouseGOP they shouldn’t have waited until now to address #debt limit. They had no problem passing another massive spending omnibus without us in December. Now they want to blame Republicans for the debt limit problem they created?" she tweeted.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday said: "We’ve been very clear there should not be any negotiations around here. We should not be stepping around dealing with the debt ceiling. We’ve been incredibly clear here."

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