Congress may have averted a government shutdown until December 11, but lawmakers will be under the gun to raise or suspend the debt ceiling long before then.
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Thursday he now estimates that “on or about” November 5, Treasury is likely to exhaust special accounting measures that are keeping the country’s debt below its legal limit.
At that point, the Treasury Department would only be able to pay the country’s bills with the cash it has on hand — which Lew expects to be roughly $30 billion.
And that would not be enough to cover the bills on some days, which can amount to $60 billion.
“We anticipate that our remaining cash would be depleted quickly,” Lew wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner.
Lew stressed if that happens, it would be the first time in the country’s history that the United States could not meet all of its obligations.
“There is no way to predict the catastrophic damage that default would have on our economy and global financial markets,” he added.