WASHINGTON, D.C. — Members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives will return to Washington, D.C. this week, following the holiday recess, with just more than a month to go until the U.S. government reaches its current debt limit.
“I think there will be a fight over the debt ceiling. I can see that coming from my colleagues on the Republican side. I can understand their frustrations,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).
Some Republican leaders have said they would not support raising the debt ceiling without additional spending cuts. However, President Barack Obama has indicated he is not willing to negotiate about raising the debt limit. He has said he wants a “clean” increase.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has urged Congress to move quickly to raise the debt ceiling, which would allow the government to borrow money to pay the bills that are already due.
“The creditworthiness of the United States is an essential underpinning of our strength as a nation,” Lew said in a letter sent to Congressional leaders last year. “It is not a bargaining clip to be used for partisan political ends.”
Manchin said he wants to see a long-term plan toward a balanced budget, possibly as soon as 2025, implemented. “I just hope we’re all reasonable in being able to sit down,” said Manchin.
The U.S. government is on track to reach the current debt ceiling by Feb. 7. At that point, Lew has said emergency steps could be taken to possibly extend the borrowing authority into early March at the latest.
A Congressional standoff on the debt ceiling in 2011 lead to a downgrade for the country’s credit rating.