Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday he is confident that the U.S. will never default on its debt and that he is not concerned a financial crisis could be on the horizon.
McConnell told reporters in his home state that while the push to raise the debt ceiling is “always a rather contentious effort,” he believes lawmakers will succeed at doing so before the Treasury exhausts its “extraordinary measures” in June.
“No, I would not be concerned about a financial crisis,” McConnell told a gaggle of reporters following an event at the University of Louisville to discuss disaster relief funding.
“In the end, I think the important thing to remember is that America must never default on its debt. It never has, and it never will,” he said. “We’ll end up in some kind of negotiation with the administration over what the circumstances or conditions under which the debt ceiling be raised.”
The comments came hours after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in a letter to congressional leaders that the department would now resort to “extraordinary measures” to ensure the U.S. does not default on its debt payments. The U.S.’s debt eclipsed $31.4 trillion this week, crossing the total lawmakers greenlighted more than a year ago.
Yellen told leaders on Thursday that a “debt issuance suspension period” would last through June 5, though no hard date has been laid out for a deal to be reached.
McConnell will play a crucial role in negotiations as a public battle between the White House and House Republicans has emerged. The White House and top Democrats have argued that passing a clean debt ceiling bill is not up for negotiation, while Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in recent days that any debt ceiling increase must include spending cuts and has called for talks with President Biden on the topic.
McCarthy has not detailed what sort of cuts he is looking to include in any deal, though he did signal support for cutting defense spending in recent days.
The White House on Tuesday panned the GOP leader and called for him to publicize the deal he struck with conservative House members in order to win their support in the Speaker race earlier this month.
When asked for his confidence level in McCarthy, McConnell said that he thinks the California Republican will “do just fine.”
“It certainly was quite an adventure watching him get there, but I think things will settle down in the House and he’ll do just fine,” McConnell added.