The Bush administration announced Wednesday that it will run out of maneuvering room to manage the government's massive borrowing needs in two weeks, putting more pressure on Congress to raise the debt ceiling when it convenes for a special post-election session.
The Republican-controlled Congress put off dealing with the debt ceiling before adjourning in October, preferring not to force members to vote on the politically sensitive issue of adding to the national debt before the November elections.
The government hit the current debt ceiling of $7.384 trillion on Oct. 14, forcing Treasury to begin a series of bookkeeping maneuvers to keep financing the government's normal operations without breaching the debt ceiling. But Treasury Secretary John Snow has warned that those special measures would last only until mid-November.
The Treasury Department's actions have included reducing the amount of debt in government trust funds to free up room for further borrowing from the public. The nonpublic debt is then replaced in the trust funds once the debt ceiling is increased along with any lost interest payments.
Republicans have proposed that the debt ceiling be raised by $690 billion to $8.074 trillion, an amount that would get the government through next September, when the 2005 budget year ends.