U.S. begins measures to buy time under debt limit

U.S. begins measures to buy time under debt limit

Kevin Lamarque

Congress is expected to face another contentious debate over raising the U.S. legal borrowing authority, which is due to expire on March 15. If it stretches to the final deadline, the timing would coincide with the debate over government agency funding for the new fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

The Congressional Budget Office said this week that if Congress does not raise the federal debt limit, the Treasury Department will exhaust all of its borrowing capacity and run out of cash in October or November, slightly later than a previous forecast.

To avoid running out of room to borrow, Treasury said it will suspend issuance of state and local government series securities, known as "slugs," next Friday.

In a letter to congressional leaders on Friday, U.S. Treasury Jack Lew urged Congress to raise the borrowing cap "as soon as possible."

In 2011, a debt limit standoff in Congress brought the United States close to an unprecedented debt default before it was resolved with a budget deal that put in place automatic spending constraints that last through 2021.

(Reporting by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)