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Get Up to Speed: Why You Should Care About the Debt Ceiling

The high-stakes Congressional battle over paying the nation’s bills.

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Negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling—which caps the amount of money the U.S. can borrow to fulfill its financial obligations—continue into late May. President Joe Biden and House Republicans are working on striking a budget compromise in time to prevent a federal default. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that the U.S. could default as soon as June 1 if the debt ceiling is not raised.

But first: Here’s what the debt ceiling does, why it exists, and how defaulting on the nation’s debt could impact the economy.

Image by Douglas Rissing / Getty Images