WASHINGTON -- Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew sent Congress another warning on the nation's debt limit Tuesday, saying he's now done everything he can do to avoid borrowing money to keep under the $16.7 trillion ceiling.
The deadline when the Treasury says it will run out of borrowed money remains Oct. 17, Lew said -- although that could change if the partial government shutdown that began Tuesday drags on. In a letter to congressional leaders, he urged Congress to increase the limit, but did not recommend a new level.
Since May, Lew has undertaken a number of actions, known as "extraordinary measures," to keep under the debt limit set by law. They include delayed pension fund payments. Tuesday's announcement said Treasury has taken the final measures at its disposal, including drawing down a $23 billion emergency fund meant to stabilize U.S. currency, and making a $9 billion debt swap.
"There are no other legal and prudent options to extend the nation's borrowing authority," Lew said.
Neither action will extend the Oct. 17 date, when the Treasury's daily balance is projected to be $30 billion. At that point, the government would only be able to pay as many bills as it has daily tax receipts.