The U.S. is getting closer to the deadline to pay its debts, and lawmakers don’t have a plan just yet. We’ll also look at the FAA-induced flight disruptions, Biden’s bipartisan Big Tech effort and the corporate lobbyists closest to McCarthy.
But first, see why the House Speaker is declining to call on Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) to resign.
Nation closing in on $31.4T borrowing limit
The federal government is closing in on the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit, meaning a high-stakes fight over raising the debt ceiling is fast approaching.
An estimate from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation places the nation’s debt at $31.39 trillion and counting on Wednesday, just a hair below the limit set more than a year ago.
- That doesn’t mean the debt ceiling will have to be lifted this week — or even this month. The Treasury Department can generally use what are known as “extraordinary measures” to put off an actual debt crisis. But it’s clear the fight is edging closer.
- The extraordinary measures used by the Treasury to generate cash to help the government pay its debts, which include halting pension fund contributions and prematurely redeeming Treasury bonds, could run out sometime in July, according to an estimate from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
- Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) promised that any debt ceiling increase would be paired with spending cuts to win over his GOP opponents in last week’s Speakership fight. But Democrats will likely refuse to go along with those cuts, setting up a stalemate.
The risks: Experts say a default on the federal debt could upend the financial system and send the U.S. economy into a recession, in addition to pausing government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare.
A 2021 report from Moody’s Analytics found that a default would cost the U.S. roughly 6 million jobs and $15 trillion in household wealth. Damage to the U.S. credit rating would likely cause interest rates for homes and cars to spike.
Aris and Karl have the info here.
5 things to know about the system outage at the FAA
Departures of domestic flights are resuming across the country after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restored a system that warns pilots of hazards during their upcoming flights.
- The FAA first issued an advisory just past 4 a.m. Wednesday that a technical issue impacted its Notice to Air Missions system (NOTAM), and it announced a couple of hours later that it had ordered all airlines to pause domestic departures until 9 a.m.
- More than 7,000 flights within, into or out of the U.S. were delayed Wednesday, and more than 1,000 were canceled.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote on Twitter that “there is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes.”
Alex Gangitano and Jared Gans have more here.
TAKING AIM AT TECH
Biden urges bipartisan action to rein in Big Tech
President Biden pushed for sweeping reforms to target tech giants through data privacy, competition and content moderation law updates in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Wednesday.
Biden’s op-ed is light on details and falls short of backing specific policy proposals, but throws the president’s weight behind several hot-button issues Big Tech critics on both sides of the aisle have raised.
- There is bipartisan support for a comprehensive federal data privacy bill in Congress, as evidenced last year when a proposal passed with support from both parties out of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But there are lingering roadblocks over the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, the proposal that advanced.
- Democrats from states with strong privacy laws in place, mainly California, have not wanted the bill to preempt their state laws. Republicans, however, broadly maintain that federal preemption is crucial to their support for a federal privacy law.
The Hill’s Rebecca Klar has the rundown here.
Here are the K Street lobbyists closest to McCarthy
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (Calif.) ascension to Speaker could be a boon for a small group of lobbyists within his inner circle.
- McCarthy has relied on a small handful of lobbyists for advice and fundraising help.
- They’re now a hot commodity among corporate clients eager to make inroads with McCarthy, who is in lockstep with corporate America on economic policy but has chastised major companies for wading into social and political issues.
“He has an open door to businesses and industries which align with cutting regulations and costs for consumers and families,” said John Stipicevic, a lobbyist at the CGCN Group and former deputy chief of staff for floor and member services for McCarthy.
Karl has the story here.
Good to Know
Korean solar power company Hanwha Q Cells will spend more than $2.5 billion to expand its Dalton, Ga., facility, the largest one-time investment in solar manufacturing in U.S. history, Biden administration officials announced Tuesday.
Other items we’re keeping an eye on:
- House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) on Wednesday said the committee will move on a larger energy legislative package under her leadership.
- A group of moderate Democrats is sounding the alarm on potential cuts to defense spending as Republicans grapple with the possibility of Pentagon budget slashes that were part of a deal to secure Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) the gavel last week.
- The European Union’s ban on crude oil imports from Russia and its price cap on the country’s oil are costing Moscow about $172 million per day, a new report has found.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading and check out The Hill’s Finance page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.