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Janet Yellen speaks during a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Sept. 30. Photo: Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen voiced support Thursday for the idea of abolishing the federal debt limit, noting that the arbitrary limit on the country's ability to pay back its financial obligations is "destructive."

Why it matters: The U.S. is just weeks away from defaulting on its loans on Oct. 18 if Congress fails to raise or suspend the debt ceiling by then.

  • Yellen has previously warned that the failure of Congress to act in time could "precipitate a historic financial crisis."
  • "It would be a catastrophe if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling," she added Thursday while testifying at a House Financial Services Committee hearing.

What they're saying: “I believe when Congress legislates expenditures and puts in place tax policy that determines taxes, those are the crucial decisions Congress is making,” Yellen said.

  • “And if to finance those spending and tax decisions it is necessary to issue additional debt, I believe it is very destructive to put the president and myself, as Treasury secretary, in a situation where we might be unable to pay the bills that result from those past decisions.”
  • Yellen added that she would support proposed legislation that would do away with the national debt ceiling.

Of note: Yellen added that— for the better part of the decades since World War II —both Republican and Democratic administrations have operated in budget deficits, and that taking action on the debt ceiling should be a bipartisan effort.

  • "That requires on a regular basis raising the debt ceiling," she added. "The need to do so has nothing to do with future spending or tax plans."

Go deeper

John Frank, author of Denver
20 hours ago - Axios Denver

1-minute voter guide: Ballot measure 304 asks for a tax cut

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Ballot measure 304 in Denver asks voters to approve a sales tax cut — and a cap that keeps it there.

By the numbers: The current combined sales tax is 4.81% and the ballot measure proposed lowering it to 4.5%, where it would stay regardless of other special taxes that may pass in the future.

Updated 1 hour ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.

1 hour ago - World

Blinken speaks with Sudan prime minister after his release

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. Photo: Ebrahim Hamid/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken spoke on the phone on Tuesday evening with Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok after the military released him from custody.

Why it matters: Hamdok’s release was a result of pressure on Sudan’s military leader General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan from the U.S. and other countries but also from the different political parties in Sudan and massive protests in the streets.

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