WASHINGTON (AFP) – Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner expressed confidence Sunday that feuding US political parties will reach an agreement to lift the country's debt limit before its is forced into default.
With Republicans demanding long-term spending cuts in return for voting to raise the debt ceiling, Geithner said the administration was willing to enter parallel talks, but in the end the limit would be raised either way.
"I want to make it perfectly clear that Congress will raise the debt ceiling," Geithner told the ABC channel "they told the president that on Wednesday in the White House."
The White House has warned of financial "Armageddon" if Congress refuses to raise the $14.29 trillion cap.
The limit is set to be reached by mid-May and lawmakers must take action by July or see the United States default on interest payments on its debt.
But the move has become embroiled in fiercely partisan battles over the economy and spending.
Republican leaders -- prodded by the Tea Party -- are demanding more expenditure cuts from programs cherished by Obama's Democrats in return for support.
"We want Congress to put in place a comprehensive framework, a balanced framework, that can reduce our long-term deficits. And we're going to work hard to do that," Geithner told NBC's "Meet the Press."
"But if by the time we need to raise the debt limit, we haven't worked all that out, Congress still has to raise the debt limit."
"Leadership recognizes that," he said pointing to closed door meetings with Republicans.
"Again, this is an absolutely critical thing for people to understand. This is about the trust and confidence in the American people, and the world is watching us.