Sep 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Yellen: U.S. would be "permanently weaker" if debt limit not raised

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during an event at the U.S. Department of the Treasury on September 15, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks during an event Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Sunday that the U.S. could face a fresh financial crisis if Congress failed to raise or suspend the country's debt ceiling.

Why it matters: The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt, but some Republican lawmakers have threatened to vote against raising the debt ceiling, arguing that it would only promote more government spending.

  • Yellen writes in the WSJ that failing to act "would likely precipitate a historic financial crisis that would compound the damage of the continuing public health emergency."

Of note: Yellen has previously said the U.S. could default in October if there's an impasse and has urged Congress to pass a bipartisan resolution. Now she warns the looming crisis could leave the U.S. a "permanently weaker nation."

  • "[T]he overwhelming consensus among economists and Treasury officials of both parties is that failing to raise the debt limit would produce widespread economic catastrophe," Yellen wrote in the WSJ article.
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