U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY SAYS U.S. DISASTROUSLY RUNNING OUT OF MONEY
MARCH 14 2006
Treasury Secretary John Snow urged Congress to set aside partisan bickering and raise the US national debt ceiling this week, or face a disastrous cash crunch for the federal government.
In a speech here to a conference of regional bankers, Snow said it would be inconceivable for Congress not to pass legislation on the debt limit before it heads into a recess at the end of this week.
"I am urging members of Congress in the strongest possible terms to resist coupling an increase in the debt ceiling with other issues," Snow said.
"Rather, they should vote to raise the ceiling this week.
It would be unthinkable for them not to take action," he said, warning that the "full faith and credit" of the US government was too precious to be compromised.
Snow has issued increasingly urgent warnings to Congress that the statutory debt limit of 8.184 trillion dollars will be hit this week, and that the government will then lose its borrowing power.
Once the US government reaches the ceiling, it comes under threat of defaulting on its debts and can lose the ability to raise future credit on the capital markets.
Last week, Snow said new issues of federal debt instruments would only raise enough cash to keep government operations financed until mid-March.
But Democratic members of Congress are said to be balking at increasing the debt limit unless the administration of President George W. Bush, which has overseen a huge rise in the US budget deficit, curbs its appetite for funds.
"We have to remember that current federal borrowing needs today are simply the product of past decisions," Snow said in his speech.
"While we always welcome a debate on budget priorities, swift action on the debt limit must still be taken this week.
"There should be no doubt over whether the government will be able to pay its bills on time, this time next week."
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