Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Thursday said that the federal government will hit the federal debt ceiling at some point in late February or early March, according to the Huffington Post.
“While this forecast is subject to inherent variability, we do not foresee any reasonable scenario in which the extraordinary measures would last for an extended period of time — principally because the government experiences large net cash outflows in February and March due to tax refunds,” Lew wrote in a letter to Congress obtained by the Huffington Post.
Congress voted in October to extend the debt ceiling through Feb. 7, and Lew said that the Treasury can keep spending for only a few weeks beyond that using extraordinary measures, according to the Huffington Post.
Republicans have already indicated that, despite their previous concession to pass a clean debt limit hike, they are looking to tack a key issue in exchange for another raise.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday said he doubted that Republicans would vote for a clean bill.
“I can’t imagine it being done clean,” he said.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who helped broker a bipartisan budget deal that passed Wednesday, floated the idea that the GOP tie approval of the Keystone XL pipeline to a debt ceiling bill.
In his letter, Lew warned against such tactics.
“The creditworthiness of the United States is an essential underpinning of our strength as a nation; it is not a bargaining chip to be used for partisan political ends,” he wrote. “Moreover, as you know, increasing the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to pay for expenditures Congress has already approved.”