WASHINGTON -- The Treasury Department does not have confidence that it will be able to pay the nation's bills after Feb. 27 without an increase in the nation's statutory borrowing authority, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in a Friday letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The letter came on the same day the nation hit the debt ceiling. After Friday, the Treasury Department will begin implementing "extraordinary measures" to enable the United States to continue meeting its obligations.
Since tax refund season is currently underway, Lew said, the amount of cash in Treasury's possession is difficult to predict. "In previous years, the Internal Revenue Service has issued as much as $10-15 billion in refunds on a single day and nearly $40 billion in a single week," Lew wrote. "Moreover, net daily expenditures for the government can be as high as $60 billion on certain days. If Treasury has insufficient cash on hand, it would be impossible for our nation to meet all of its obligations for the first time in history."
A spokesman for Boehner did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have insisted that Congress raise the debt ceiling by passing a "clean" bill, or one without any unrelated measures attached. House Republicans abandoned plans earlier this week to tie a debt ceiling hike to the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the repeal of a provision in the Affordable Care Act.
Republicans are currently mulling whether to attach other provisions to a debt ceiling bill instead. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) scheduled a Wednesday vote on "possible consideration of the legislation related to the debt limit," though he did not specify whether the bill in question would be a "clean" bill.