House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says it's not a threat.
Even as he admitted that not raising the debt ceiling would mean a "financial disaster" for the US and the world, the Speaker implied Sunday that Republicans would hold the debt limit hostage if Democrats didn't agree to deep spending cuts.
"I know you're not threatening to default, but do you agree with administration officials and other economists that defaulting on the full faith and credit of the United States would be a financial disaster?" Fox News' Chris Wallace asked Boehner.
"That would be a financial disaster," the Speaker agreed. "Not only for our country, but for the worldwide economy. Remember, the American people on election day said we want to cut spending and we want to create jobs. You can't create jobs if you default on the federal debt."
"Listen, there has been a spending spree going on in Washington the last couple of years that is beyond control," he added. "And the president is going to ask us to increase the debt limit, he's going have to be willing to cut up the credit cards. We've got to work together by listening to the American people, and reducing these obligations that we have."
"So, defaulting on the full faith and credit is unacceptable to you?" Wallace pressed.
"I don't think it's a question that is even on the table," Boehner replied.
But for several Republican lawmakers, the issue did seem to be on the table.
Following big Republican wins in the November midterm elections, tea party favorite Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) suggested that refusing to raise the debt limit should be the first order of business.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has threatened to hold the debt ceiling hostage over cuts to Social Security.
Republican senators provided an average of 39 votes to raise the debt ceiling while George W. Bush was president, but only one supported the increase under President Barack Obama.