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"Time is short on debt ceiling", says Treasury Secretary

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Treasury Secretary Jack Lew today issued another warning to Congress to act soon to raise the debt limit before . Secretary Lew, speaking at the Bipartisan Policy Center, said "the bottom line is time is short."

This Friday, the United States Treasury will reach the debt limit, meaning it will lose the ability to borrow more money. If Congress does not act by Friday, the Treasury Department will take “extraordinary measures” to meet the United States government’s financial obligations. Those measures include special accounting maneuvers to finance Social Security checks and ensure federal workers and military personnel are paid.

"Without borrowing authority, at some point very soon, it would not be possible to meet all of the obligations of the federal government," Lew said. Lew estimates those extraordinary measures will be exhausted by the end of February. That means the United States could be at risk for default as soon as March.

House Republicans are asking for conditions before they will approve another increase in the debt ceiling. They have not offered specifics yet, but those demands in the past have included concessions on spending. The White House, as it has in past debates, has vowed it will not negotiate over the debt ceiling. This time around, neither Republicans nor Democrats want a repeat of the bruising debt ceiling battle of 2011 nor the government shutdown last fall. Both parties have eyes on the Congressional elections this November, aware that another partisan political standoff could have painful repercussions for the party held responsible.