Joe Biden has condemned “reckless” Republicans for pushing the US government towards a historic debt default, warning: “A meteor is headed to crash into our economy.”

The president’s intervention came because there is a cap on how much money the federal government can borrow, which only Congress has the power to raise or lower.

The US treasury has said it will be unable to pay its bills by around 18 October, unless Congress raises the current debt limit of $28.4tn. Failure could trigger the first US default in modern history, wreaking havoc on the US and world economies.

In an era of bitter partisanship, the issue has become an acid test of Washington dysfunction. Senate Republicans have twice blocked action to raise the limit, arguing that Democrats can use a manoeuvre known as budget reconciliation to act alone.

“They won’t raise it even though defaulting on the debt would lead to a self-inflicted wound that takes our…

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