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US Treasury starts last steps to preserve borrowing authority

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
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Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday started using its last tools for pushing back the day when the government will run out of legal borrowing authority, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said.

Lew said his department was suspending some reinvestments of a government currency exchange fund and would also enter into a debt swap with the Federal Financing Bank and the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund.

(Read more: 143-year-old law puts fear in officials during shutdown)

He repeated that these measures would allow it to continue below its $16.7 trillion limit for a little while longer, but that by Oct. 17 the government would exhaust its borrowing authority and be left with about $30 billion in cash to pay the nation's bills.

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

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