By Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is asking business leaders to meet with President Joe Biden on Wednesday about the need to raise the US debt ceiling, according to a person familiar with the plans.
The proposed meeting is part of a broader White House strategy to pressure Republicans to vote in favor of raising the debt ceiling, or to allow Biden’s Democrats to raise it alone, with no procedural hurdles in the way.
The Treasury Department has estimated that Congress has until around October 18 to raise the government’s $ 28.4 trillion credit limit or risk a debt default that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the world’s largest economy.
The meeting with business leaders could underscore that corporate executives want to avoid the chaos of a debt ceiling battle and put pressure on top Republican leaders like Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell.
Republicans in Congress tend to prefer policies that are perceived as business-friendly.
So far there has been no details about which executives or companies would be involved.
The US Chamber of Commerce, a leading business lobby group, has urged Congress to raise the debt ceiling and warned that defaulting is not an option.
Democrats control both the House of Representatives and the Senate with wafer-thin majorities. But Republicans have refused to vote in favor of the increase, given the perceived political advantage of portraying Biden’s party as monitoring runaway spending.
The White House has argued that both parties have supported increases in the debt ceiling in the past, including several times during Republican President Donald Trump’s tenure when most of the debt covered by that increase had accrued.
Biden and his aides have been using much sharper rhetoric recently, accusing Republicans of voting directly to bankrupt the United States.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and Bill Berkrot)