Updated 2:54 p.m. | Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Thursday the nation is not likely to hit the debt ceiling until May.
“I’m just telling you what I heard yesterday,” Reid said when asked about the Treasury Department’s previous estimate of February as the deadline for raising the borrowing limit.
Reid said that the issue came up during the two-hour meeting Senate Democrats had at the White House on Wednesday with President Barack Obama.
“We’ll take care of it,” Reid said of the issue, noting it’s not as time sensitive as previously thought.
Reid’s comments came at a press conference with other Senate Democratic leaders.
Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson later clarified in a statement to reporters that Reid wants the debt limit dealt with “as soon as possible.”
“Senator Reid agrees with Secretary Lew that Congress needs to extend the nation’s borrowing authority well in advance of when extraordinary measures are exhausted, as estimated by the Treasury Department. Secretary Lew has recommended that Congress deal with this issue in February and Senator Reid takes Secretary Lew’s recommendations extremely seriously,” Jentleson said.
Apparently Reid was referring to news reports, not official guidance from the administration.
Calculating the exact timing of hitting the limit has always been difficult for the nation’s bean counters, given the complicated flows of the government’s revenues and expenditures.
“They have to calculate these extraordinary expenses and when things run out,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who heads the Senate Democrats’ policy and communications shop, after the press conference. “It’s certainly significantly past February.”
Reid said Obama reiterated his position Wednesday that he will not negotiate on the issue. Republicans have called for limits on spending in exchange for their support on the must-pass measure, although Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, seems resigned to raising it even if he can’t extract a new round of spending cuts.