(The Center Square) – Time is running short for President Joe Biden and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to reach a deal to avoid breaching the nation’s debt ceiling, but just how long the federal government can operate without Congress raising the debt limit remains an estimate.

On Tuesday, McCarthy, R-Calif., said “there are 9 days left for Democrats to meet the deadline, but since President Biden ignored this debt crisis for more than 100 days – make no mistake – any default would be the Biden Default.”

Asked about the June 1 deadline from U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, McCarthy said, “I don’t pick the deadline. Janet Yellen picks the deadline. She determines what it is and I just go by what she says.”

U.S. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., said Tuesday he’d like to see more information about the June 1 deadline.

“We’d like to see more transparency on how they come to that date, but Janet Yellen herself actually left the door open to delaying that in her Tweets yesterday,” Scalise said. “The comments that she sent out yesterday implied that it’s June 1 or later giving some openness to the idea that June 1 may not be the so-called X date. We haven’t really been able to see a lot of transparency, but it looks like they are hedging and opening up the door to move that date back.”

Yellen has said lawmakers must raise the debt ceiling by June 1 or risk a default on U.S. debt obligations. When exactly the U.S. will run out of money remains uncertain.

Yellen said June 1 remains a “hard deadline” on Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” The debt ceiling is the maximum amount of debt the U.S. Department of the Treasury can issue.

In a letter to McCarthy on Monday – her third such letter in as many weeks – Yellen again said the money could run out by June 1.

“With an additional week of information now available, I am writing to note that we estimate that it is highly likely that Treasury will no longer be able to satisfy all of the government’s obligations if Congress has not acted to raise or suspend the debt limit by early June, and potentially as early as June 1,” she wrote.

Yellen’s letter noted that things could change: “These estimates are based on currently available data, and federal receipts, outlays, and debt could vary from these estimates. I will continue to update Congress as more information becomes available.”

The Congressional Budget Office has also warned the U.S. faces a significant risk of not being able to pay its bills in the coming weeks without an increase to the debt limit.

“The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the debt limit remains unchanged, there is a significant risk that at some point in the first two weeks of June, the government will no longer be able to pay all of its obligations,” according to a CBO report released May 12.

Michael Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, said the state of talks have done little to inspire confidence.

“I believe there’s a higher probability of default this year than in past years, simply because of the dysfunctional nature of the Congress,” Hicks told The Center Square. “However, the default would surely be very short-lived as the effects of a default on the value of the dollar, equity markets and borrowing costs are likely to be very costly.”

Hicks blamed Republicans and Democrats. Members of both parties have been blaming each other for weeks.

“Neither party has done anything remotely responsible about our debt,” Hicks said. “The Biden administration is not offering obvious negotiating opportunities, while the GOP has been as bad, and arguably worse on the deficit as the Democrats. I don’t think the debt ceiling discussion will have much long-term effect. The real issue has to be resolved in the budget negotiations or at the ballot box.”

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