WASHINGTON, Aug 27 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Tuesday said it was essential for Congress to raise the statutory borrowing limit this fall so the government can continue to pay its bills on time, and he warned the administration would not allow politicians to use the debt ceiling as political leverage.
The Treasury Department has set a deadline for raising the debt ceiling, and said Congress needs to act by mid-October, or the country will face an unprecedented default.
“Congress should come back and they should act,” Lew said in a television interview on CNBC. “The president will not negotiate conditions on the debt limit.”
The United States has been bumping up against its $16.7 trillion debt ceiling since May. In the past, it has staved off hitting the debt limit by implementing emergency measures, including shifting money among government accounts.
Lew said there was no question on whether or not the Treasury will meet its borrowing obligations. He said it was essential to avoid a repeat of 2011, the last time a debt limit stalemate played out and pushed the government to the brink of a shutdown and an unprecedented default.