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It's time to fight over the debt ceiling again

Treasury Secretary warns Congress about impending debt limit

Treasury

The U.S. Treasury is likely to exhaust all extraordinary measures to fund the government if members of Congress fail to raise the nation’s debt ceiling by the end of February, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned in a letter to the House of Representatives Monday.

In what seems like a six-month ritual in Washington, D.C., Lew sent a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, asking for Congress to act on the impending debt limit breach before Feb. 7.

"When I previously wrote to you in December, I estimated that Treasury would exhaust extraordinary measures in late February or early March," Lew wrote. "Based on our best and most recent information, we believe that Treasury is more likely to exhaust those measures in late February. While this forecast is subject to inherent variability, we do not foresee any reasonable scenario in which the extraordinary measures would last for an extended period of time."

Lew admits last year the Treasury was able to extend the country’s borrowing authority for a period of time, but this is not the case in 2014 with large tax refunds going out in February.

"In addition, the amount of borrowing capacity that can be provided by the extraordinary measures is significantly more limited than in 2011 and 2013,” Lew wrote. "In February, we estimate that they could free up only about $200 billion, compared to $330 billion in 2013. The difference results largely because some of the extraordinary measures are only available at certain times of the year."

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