WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen warned on Friday that she would have to begin employing “extraordinary measures” to continue paying the nation’s bills later this month if lawmakers do not act to raise the statutory debt limit and that her powers to delay a default could be exhausted by early June.
The letter to Congress was the first sign that resistance by House Republicans to lifting the borrowing cap could put the United States economy at risk and signals the beginning of an intense fight in Washington this year over spending and deficits.
“Failure to meet the government’s obligations would cause irreparable harm to the U.S. economy, the livelihoods of all Americans, and global financial stability,” Ms. Yellen wrote.
The Treasury secretary said that there is considerable uncertainty surrounding how long she can use measures to a delay a default and that she would keep Congress abreast of the fiscal situation.
A White House spokesman declined immediate comment on Friday, but said that Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary, would likely address the issue at an afternoon briefing for reporters. Ms. Jean-Pierre has repeatedly said Mr. Biden will not negotiate with congressional Republicans on the debt limit, despite their calls to link an increase in the limit to cuts in federal spending.
“Congress is going to need to raise the debt limit without conditions,” Ms. Jean-Pierre told reporters traveling with Mr. Biden to Texas on Air Force One last week. “There will be no hostage taking.