Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned congressional leaders Wednesday that he will exhaust emergency borrowing measures “no later than Oct. 17,” leaving him with less than $30 billion on hand to pay the nation’s bills.
In a letter sent to all members of Congress, Lew urged immediate action to raise the federal debt limit, which stands at $16.7 trillion. Without additional borrowing authority, Lew warned, cash on hand “would be far short of net expenditures on certain days, which can be as high as $60 billion.”
“If we have insufficient cash on hand,” the letter said, “it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history.”
The letter comes a week after Treasury closed the books on the most recent round of quarterly corporate and individual income tax receipts, which Lew previously warned were running a bit behind expectations. It marks the first time Lew has given lawmakers a hard deadline for raising the debt limit; he had previously said he would exhaust emergency borrowing measures in “mid-October.”