Congress has six weeks to raise the debt ceiling before all hell breaks loose—and that’s a lot less time than it sounds like, because one or both chambers is scheduled to be on break for three of those weeks, the Washington Post observes. What’s more, Congress’ last major debt-reduction bill took more than a month to write even after a deal had been agreed upon—and negotiators aren’t close to a deal yet.
The White House and congressional leaders are trying to slash $2 trillion from the debt by 2021, though not everyone even agrees on that target. Some consensus cuts have emerged, but both sides are deadlocked on what Joe Biden calls “philosophically big-ticket items”—like cuts to Medicare or new revenues. “I keep talking to other colleagues who have confidence that someone else is working things out,” says Chris Coons. “But I keep looking around thinking, ‘If we’re not doing it, then who is?’” (Read more debt ceiling stories.)