POLITICS

Mitch McConnell Pledges To Avoid Debt Ceiling Disaster

03/08/2015 11:57 am ET | Updated Mar 09, 2015

WASHINGTON -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that despite his differences with President Barack Obama, he has no interest in shutting down the government or causing it to default on its debt.

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Congress on Friday that on March 16 the government would no longer have authority to take on debt to pay for spending Congress has already approved. If lawmakers don't raise the so-called "debt ceiling" by then, Lew said the Treasury Department can take "extraordinary measures" to continue government operations for a short time.

"I made it very clear after the November election that we're certainly not going to shut down the government or default on the national debt," McConnell said, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Defaulting on the debt would not only shut down the government; economists say it could have catastrophic financial consequences. The Obama administration has previously refused to bargain with Republicans who wanted policy concessions from Democrats for agreeing to raise the debt ceiling.

Nevertheless, McConnell suggested Republicans could try to get some policy initiatives out of a debt ceiling hike -- even though demands could lead to a standoff with the Obama administration.

"We'll figure some way to handle it and hopefully it might carry some other important legislation that we can agree on in connection with it," McConnell said.

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