WASHINGTON -- As the U.S. hit its
The Business Roundtable sent a letter to House and
"Any default by the federal government on its debts would cause devastating, long-lasting effects for all Americans," wrote AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, the group's chairman, and United Technologies Corp. Chief Executive
"Further, prolonged inaction that takes the government up to the precipice would foster uncertainty, dampen consumer and business confidence, risk higher borrowing costs, and could have immediate consequences on hiring and investment," they said.
Congress suspended the $16.7-trillion debt limit in October as part of the deal to reopen the federal government after the
On Saturday, the debt limit will reset to the current U.S. debt, which is about $17.3 trillion.
At that point, the Treasury Department will begin a series of measures designed to extend its borrowing authority. But Treasury Secretary
The first measure was set to begin at noon EST Friday, when the department will suspend the sale of state and local government series securities.
This will be the ninth time in the last 20 years that the Treasury Department has suspended the sale of the securities to avoid breaching the debt limit. To buy more time last year after the debt limit was technically hit in May, the department suspended the sale of the securities for five months.
This year's debt-limit showdown takes place at a time when the federal government is paying out tax refunds, limiting the amount of time extraordinary measures can buy, Lew said.
The Business Roundtable letter comes after nine other groups, including the
Business groups are concerned about the effect on an economy still struggling to recover from the Great Recession. Friday's disappointing jobs report -- the second in a row -- highlighted those worries.
The Business Roundtable said it wanted Congress and the
"I think that we're still looking for the pieces to this puzzle, but listen, we do not want to default on our debt, and we're not going to default on our debt," House Speaker
However, he emphasized that House Republicans wanted something in exchange for agreeing to raise the limit. But Boehner said it was unclear what would be enough to get many Republicans, who oppose more federal borrowing, to agree to raise the limit.
"Mother Theresa is a saint now, but, you know, if the Congress wanted to make her a saint and attach that to the debt ceiling, we probably couldn't get [the necessary] 218 Republican votes," he said.