Published On: Tue, Mar 10th, 2015

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Hopes McConnell Won’t Shut Down Government Again

Jack Lew says extreme measures must be taken if Congress doesn't extend the debt ceiling

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If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell doesn’t abide by his promise not to hold the debt ceiling hostage again, as in 2013, Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew said that “extraordinary measures” would have to be taken to keep the government running.

The debt ceiling was raised to $17.2 trillion, but by March 15, the government won’t be able to borrow more to keep running, unless the debt ceiling is extended by March 16. According to U.S. News, Secretary Lew said, “Absent an increase in the debt limit, the Treasury Department will have to take extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis.”

It would have to stop sales of certain securities and won’t be able to deposit money into select funds.

Congress was given the right to set the debt ceiling since 1939, and it has raised it on 100 occasions, usually without causing collective angst. However, during the Clinton Administration in 1995, and while Obama was President in 2013, the government was shut down over Congress’ refusal to extend the debt ceiling. It nearly happened as well in 2011.

The public does not find this faceoff very entertaining, and it symbolizes partisan bickering. The policy of refusing to extend the debt ceiling in order to soil the President’s image has backfired, and has caused many Americans to blame Congress. Senate Majority Leader expressed no regrets in his role in the 2013 government shutdown and said it was a “hostage worth ransoming, ” but he changed his tune after the last Congressional elections, and declared he would not allow the government to default again.

He restated this commitment on “Face the Nation, ”  “I made it very clear after the November election that we are not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt.” While he added that Jack Lew has “tools in his toolbox, ” it is safe to say that Lew would prefer not to have to use them.

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