WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew told Congress on Wednesday that he will extend for another three months the authority he is using to take emergency measures to keep from breaching the nation's borrowing limit.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Lew said he will extend the current debt-suspension period, which was set to expire Friday, through Oct. 30. He said he believes the emergency measures he is using may be sufficient to keep the government operating for a brief period after Oct. 30.
Since March 16, Lew has been employing a variety of bookkeeping maneuvers such as removing investments from government pension funds to keep from breaching the current debt limit of $18.113 trillion. The debt currently stands $25 million below that figure.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the bookkeeping maneuvers should keep the government's borrowing below the new limit until October or November. In his letter, Lew once again urged Congress to pass a new debt limit "without controversy or brinksmanship."
A 2011 standoff over the debt limit led to the first-ever downgrade of the nation's credit rating by Standard & Poor's, while a 2013 battle over the budget led to a 16-day partial government shutdown.
The declaration of a debt suspension period allows Lew to take investments out of certain pension and disability funds for government employees. Under law, Lew must restore all investments removed from the government pension funds once a new debt ceiling is established.