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Treasury Secretary Warns Congress Of Next Looming Crisis

As if Congress needed another problem to solve, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent congressional leaders a letter reminding them that in a little more than two weeks, they have another looming deadline that is just as serious — if not more so — than the shutdown they're dealing with now.

The U.S. Government, Lew wrote, will run out of money "no later than Oct. 17," if Congress doesn't raise the country's debt ceiling, or, in other words, extend its borrowing authority.

And if Congress thinks the government can stretch its money beyond that, they are mistaken, said Lew.

That's because the Treasury has already been taking "extraordinary measures" to make their money last, but as of today, the "Treasury has begun using the final extraordinary measures."

"There are no other legal and prudent options to extend the nation's borrowing authority," Lew wrote.

Come Oct. 17, the government will be left with $30 billion in cash to meet its obligations. That's not very much, because on certain days the government's obligations can reach $60 billion.

"If we have insufficient cash on hand, it would be impossible for the United States of America to meet all of its obligations for the first time in our history," Lew wrote. "For this reason, I respectfully urge Congress to act immediately to meet its responsibility by extending the nation's borrowing authority."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.