U.S. political divisions crash into debt ceiling

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Light catches the security fence around the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. March 15, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept 28 (Reuters Breakingviews) - The fuse has been lit on a possible U.S. debt default. Republicans in the Senate on Monday blocked a fairly straightforward House plan that would once again have suspended the government's borrowing limit read more . Past efforts have garnered bipartisan backing after displays of brinkmanship – including from Democrats during President Donald Trump's term – because few lawmakers want to see, for example, soldiers going unpaid or risk a financial-market disaster if America misses a payment on its bonds.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Tuesday warned lawmakers that the government could fall short of cash after Oct. 18, eventually leading to an unprecedented default if the impasse is not addressed read more . Democratic lawmakers are working on ways to address the issue without Republican support.

The debt ceiling gives politicians a second bite at everything. First Congress authorizes spending and then, as long as the government runs at a deficit, it has to increase or suspend the federal borrowing limit to fund the commitments. It should be scrapped before reckless lawmakers take U.S. finances beyond the point of no return. (By Gina Chon)

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Editing by Richard Beales and Marjorie Backman

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