WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged Congress on Monday to lift the debt ceiling without delay, as the government will run out of its borrowing authority on Friday.
"Time is short. Congress needs to act to extend the nation's borrowing authority, and it needs to act now," he said at a meeting organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank.
The Congress suspended the deal limit in October as part of a deal to re-open the government after a 16-day partial shutdown. But the temporary suspension lasts only through Feb. 7.
Lew said as the temporary suspension of the debt limit will end in just a matter of days, the Treasury Department will have to start using extraordinary measures after Friday to avoid a first- ever default on the national debt.
But he said that those extraordinary measures will probably only last until the end of this month.
"In February, the same large trust fund investments that were deferred last year are not available, and at the beginning of tax filing season, tax refunds result in net cash outflows that deplete borrowing capacity very quickly. We now forecast that we are likely to exhaust these measures by the end of this month," he said.
Given these realities, Lew said it is imperative that Congress move right away to increase the country's borrowing authority.
Simply delaying action on the debt limit can cause harm to the economy, rattle financial markets, and hurt taxpayers, he said.
Raising the debt limit has nothing to do with new spending, he said, noting that it is about fulfilling spending obligations that Congress has already made and paying bills that have already been incurred.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday said that he would not negotiate with his Republican rivals over raising the federal government's debt ceiling and the fiscal brinksmanship should not be repeated. Full story
WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- A two-year budget plan crafted by bipartisan negotiators and sailed through U.S. House of Representatives last week passed the Senate on Wednesday, eliminating the possibility of a government shutdown in the next two years. Full story