Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Mulvaney Says Trump Team Is Unified in Wanting ‘Clean’ Debt-Ceiling Hike

  • After conflicting signals, Republicans moving to single plan
  • Treasury seeking debt-limit hike by Sept. 29 to avoid default

The Trump administration is now unified in asking lawmakers to raise the nation’s debt limit without including spending cuts or other provisions that might provoke an extended fight in Congress, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Thursday.

President Donald Trump’s team is pushing to “get the simplest debt ceiling increase that we can get,” Mulvaney told a group of reporters according a transcript provided by the White House. “There is no infighting within the administration about the debt ceiling.”

Mulvaney and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had given conflicting signals about the administration’s stance on legislation to raise the government’s borrowing limit. Mnuchin has been urging Congress to deliver a “clean” hike in the debt limit, while Mulvaney, backed by conservatives in the House, has suggested in the past using the bill to try to force changes to the budgeting process.

“Steve Mnuchin speaks for the administration when it comes to – on the debt ceiling,” Mulvaney said. “We’ve heard that out of the president’s mouth, and I respect that, in fact that’s the right way to do it.”

Mulvaney’s statement comes a day after Republican Representative Mark Meadows, who leads group of influential conservatives known as the House Freedom Caucus, said he recognized that a final bill to raise the debt ceiling might not include measures he supports aimed at cutting the budget deficit.

“I don’t believe we should play around with the full faith and credit of our country -- I’m bullish on getting it done,” the North Carolina Republican said.

Avoiding Default

Taken together, the comments suggest Republicans are reaching a consensus on legislation that would avoid a default by the government, which could have catastrophic implications for markets. A showdown over the debt limit in 2011 triggered the first downgrade of U.S. debt.

The Treasury Department warned in a letter last week that Congress should raise the nation’s debt limit by Sept. 29 to avoid a default, and the House, currently on summer recess, is only scheduled to be in legislative session for 12 days before then. Lawmakers also need to pass a stopgap spending measure to keep the government open by the end of September.

Mnuchin met Tuesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, to discuss raising the debt ceiling, a legal limit on how much the government can borrow. McConnell said after the meeting he was seeking “a way forward to do that together to make sure America continues to never, ever default.”

The administration has requested a $2.5 trillion increase of the debt ceiling, which would be enough to avoid another vote on the issue until after the 2020 presidential election.

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