Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday evening that his department is quickly exhausting measures to keep the federal government from breaching the debt limit, adding that the deadline for congressional action to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States is still October 17.
“There are no other legal and prudent options to extend the nation’s borrowing authority,” beyond Congress raising the borrowing cap, Lew said. Lew said he ordered the final three “extraordinary measures” to be undertaken Tuesday to keep the government operating below the debt ceiling, which include the suspension of certain Treasury transactions.
Earlier Tuesday, President Barack Obama called on Congress to raise the debt limit, but repeated his promise not to negotiate on the measure.
“If they go through with it this time and force the United States to default on its obligations for the first time in history, it would be far more dangerous than a government shutdown — as bad as a shutdown is,” the president said. “It would be an economic shutdown.”
Lew’s letter said the ongoing government shutdown creates “additional uncertainty” over the debt limit date, particularly if it drags on for more than a few days.