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Pelosi says Democrats discussing future debt-limit options — including trillion-dollar coin

MarketWatch logo MarketWatch 9/28/2021 Robert Schroeder
Nancy Pelosi wearing a suit and tie © AP

As Democrats scramble to get a debt-limit increase or suspension through Congress, they are already looking ahead at options for the next time action is needed, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.

Speaking to reporters, the California Democrat said, “right now, we have to raise the debt ceiling.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen earlier Tuesday told lawmakers that her agency is likely to exhaust extraordinary measures to keep from defaulting on its debt if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by Oct. 18.

Now read: Yellen warns of ‘calamity’ of failure to deal with debt ceiling

Meanwhile, said Pelosi, House Democrats are discussing options for dealing with the debt limit in the future.

One strategy includes minting a $1 trillion coin, a move she said Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York has raised. Back in 2013, during another debt-ceiling fight, the Treasury and Federal Reserve said they wouldn’t pursue just such a plan as a way of avoiding the debt limit. And the White House earlier this month rejected the idea anew, saying there is only “one viable option” on the debt limit — increasing or suspending it.

Some progressive policy analysts have been pushing for the minting of the $1 trillion coin. On Tuesday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat, tweeted her support for the coin solution.

Pelosi also said Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania has suggested giving the power of raising the debt limit to the treasury secretary. Congress would then have the authority to reject an increase, she said.

In 2013, as the Wall Street Journal reported at the time, there was speculation that the Obama administration might mint a $1 trillion coin, deposit it at the Federal Reserve, and then draw $1 trillion to pay bills if Congress didn’t raise the borrowing limit. Former President Barack Obama later acknowledged that he considered the idea.

In the current debt-ceiling battle, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Democrats should increase the limit themselves, since President Joe Biden’s party is pursuing a major spending bill without GOP support.

Also read: What happens if the U.S. defaults on its debt?


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