What Happens If the U.S. Can’t Pay Its Bills? ‘Catastrophe’

A few short weeks are left for Congress — or, perhaps, President Joe Biden — to take action and lift the debt ceiling before tick, tick, tick … boom goes the economy.

The so-called “X-date” — when the federal government can no longer meet its legal obligations — could be as early as June 1, according to a May 1 letter from U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to Congress. Yellen reiterated the same sentiments in another letter to Congress on May 15.

“If Congress fails to increase the debt limit, it would cause severe hardship to American families, harm our global leadership position, and raise questions about our ability to defend our national security interests,” Yellen wrote in the most recent letter. She warned of “catastrophe” in a May 11 news conference.

The Congressional Budget Office released its own projections on May 12, which left more wiggle room: somewhere in the first two weeks of June. The report also said the U.S. Treasury’s cash and extraordinary…

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This article was written by Anna Helhoski and originally published on www.nerdwallet.com