July 19, 2019 / 5:03 PM / 3 months ago

Trump says will not use U.S. debt ceiling to negotiate spending deal with Congress

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks while participating in an Apollo 11 50th anniversary commemoration event in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis??

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Friday he could not imagine using the United States’ debt ceiling as a tool to negotiate a spending deal with lawmakers in Congress, saying the government’s credit rating was sacred.

“Hopefully we’re in good shape on the debt ceiling. I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“I don’t think anybody would want to play that card.”

U.S. borrowing authority could be exhausted sometime in September, according to the latest administration estimates, rather than in October or November, as had earlier been projected.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she hopes for a vote on the debt limit before Congress takes its recess in August. She said on Wednesday for that to happen, she needed an agreement this week in order to get it to the House floor by July 25 so the Senate can consider it before recessing.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday the Trump administration and congressional leaders had agreed on broad spending levels for the next two fiscal years but Pelosi would not confirm there was a deal.

“We have actually now agreed on the spending numbers for both years,” Mnuchin said on Thursday at a G7 finance leaders meeting in France. “We’re now working on offsets and certain structural issues and as part of this, we’ve agreed that there would be a long-term debt ceiling extension.”

Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by David Alexander; editing by G Crosse and Bill Trott

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