WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress will pass legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling and lawmakers have a number of options for avoiding default, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday.
“We will pass legislation to make sure we pay our debts and we will not hit the debt ceiling. We’ll do this before the debt ceiling,” Ryan said during a tax reform event at a Boeing plant in Washington state.
“There are many different options in front of us on how we achieve that,” he added. “We pay our debts in this country. We will continue to do so.”
Later, in an interview with CNBC, Ryan said he had considered the option of attaching legislation raising the debt ceiling to a measure Congress passed recently extending money to veterans’ programs.
The comments came after President Donald Trump said on Twitter that Congress could have avoided a “mess” if Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had taken his advice to link the debt ceiling and veterans’ funding measure.
“That’s an option we were looking at but the VA deadline came up and we weren’t able to do that then,” Ryan told CNBC. Congress passed the veterans’ measure in early August and Trump signed it August 12.
“I’m really not that worried about this, we have plenty of options ahead of us” to raise the debt ceiling, Ryan said, adding that he did not interpret Trump’s tweets as “going after me.”
The speaker sidestepped a question as to whether the options included a “clean” hike of the debt ceiling, saying he did not want to “negotiate to the media.”
House conservative Republicans have been pushing for a variety of add-ons to a debt limit bill, such as deep spending cuts or the sale of government assets.
The government bumped up against its statutory limit on borrowing at just under $20 trillion in March.
Since then, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has had to take “extraordinary” measures to stave off a default until Congress agrees to raise the Treasury’s borrowing capability. The Trump administration had been hoping Congress would pass a debt limit bill before embarking on a long summer recess.
Reporting by David Morgan and David Alexander; Writing by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Andrew Hay