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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

The Issue:

Congress faces an October deadline to raise the debt limit. In a tweet on Wednesday President Trump blamed Republican Congressional leaders for making it a "mess."

Why it matters:

Failing to raise the debt-limit would be unprecedented. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) said the impact would be "chaotic" as the U.S. Treasury picks payments to make based on available cash, meaning some things, like Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, and even salaries for soldiers might not be paid on time. A 2015 report by Congressional investigators said the impact on financial markets would be "sudden and severe."

The facts:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has told Congress the debt limit must be raised by Sept. 29. The debt limit was suspended until March of this year, and since then the Treasury has been using so-called "extraordinary measures" to meet its obligations. Those will be exhausted sometime in October, though the exact date is unknown.

Congressional leaders and President Tump's advisers have said there will be no problem raising the debt limit. But any action will require support from Democrats and some House Republicans have in the past used the debt-limit debate to call for spending cuts.

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
8 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.