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Biden forms team to explore options to avert another debt ceiling crisis

The new group will analyze "economic and financial harms associated with debt ceiling brinkmanship" and draw lessons from other countries’ experiences, the White House said.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech on NATO in Vilnius, Lithuania
President Joe Biden.Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has directed his aides to convene a panel of experts to make the risk of debt default "a thing of the past," the White House announced Thursday.

"As the President has said, now that the latest debt ceiling crisis is behind us, it is necessary to explore all legal and policy options to prevent Congress from ever again holding hostage the full faith and credit of the United States," it said in a statement.

The administration’s Debt Ceiling Working Group will “analyze the economic and financial harms associated with debt ceiling brinkmanship,” draw lessons from other countries’ experiences and offer recommendations to avert any future debt ceiling logjams, the White House said.

Earlier this year, Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy struck a deal to raise the U.S. debt ceiling, averting a debt default that experts warned would have upended the global economy. Some Republicans had said any legislation raising the country's credit limit should pass in tandem with spending cuts, while most Democrats insisted on a "clean" debt ceiling increase.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy speaks with reporters about the debt ceiling negotiations at the Capitol
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy speaks with reporters about the debt ceiling negotiations at the Capitol in May.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

Other debt ceiling standoffs have occurred in the past, and some Democrats have called for eliminating the budgetary limit altogether.

The White House did not say in its statement whether its group would endorse that proposal, although it did say the panel would examine "other approaches to avoiding a future crisis absent congressional action" — potentially a dog bone to some Democrats who had implored Biden to lift the debt ceiling by invoking the 14th Amendment of the Constitution during the last impasse.

The working group will be co-chaired by White House counsel Stuart Delery and Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council Lael Brainard, the White House said, and it will include Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, and Council of Economic Advisers Chair Jared Bernstein.

The panel will also "consult with experts outside the government in a range of fields, including law, economics, and history," it added.

The debt ceiling deal the two sides struck in May followed months of political mudslinging and weeks of frenzied negotiations.

The final bipartisan deal faced heavy criticism from GOP hard-liners, who argued that its spending cuts and conservative provisions were too weak.

It also faced opposition from some Democrats, who balked at the added work requirements and nondefense spending cuts.