WASHINGTON, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew urged the Congress Thursday to raise the federal debt ceiling as soon as possible, or the government would run out of the borrowing room to pay its bills.
"The ability to manage through the debt limit being hit on Feb. 7 would get us maybe to the end of February or early March," Lew said at the Council on Foreign Relations.
"I think that if Congress is looking at the numbers the way we are, they would see that they would be looking more at the end of February than any time in March," he added.
On Oct. 16, the Congress reached a last-minute a deal that raised the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, ending a two-week government shutdown which dealt a heavy blow to public confidence in the country's political system. After that, the Treasury had to use the so-called extraordinary measures to allow the government to borrow for the time being.
"I think we get into a kind of Washington parlor sport of trying to figure out the precise moment when is the last minute? The build-up to the last minute causes damage. It's a mistake to wait until the 11th hour," Lew said.
"Congress should do this as quickly as possible and as -- with the least drama as possible," he added.
Lew also noted the country is starting the year with economic tailwinds, but the economy is not out of the woods completely, and there are a lot more to do to keep the U.S. economy growing.