4 Feb 2014

Little time for Congress to raise debt

10:14 am on 4 February 2014

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says Congress only has a few days to lift the federal debt limit. He said the United States will exhaust its borrowing authority on Friday if there is no action by Congress.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew.

US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew. Photo: Getty Images / AFP

"Time is short. Congress needs to act to extend the nation's borrowing authority, and it needs to act now," Mr Lew said in prepared remarks on Monday at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

"In just a matter of days, the temporary suspension of the debt limit will end, and the Treasury Department will have to start using extraordinary measures so the government can continue to meet its obligations," he said.

On 7 February, the borrowing cap will be locked at the total amount borrowed at that date. US debt currently stands at $US17.3 trillion.

Political stalemate over the issue forced a partial shutdown of the government for 16 days in October.

But he warned Congress against waiting to raise the debt limit at the 11th hour, saying that a delay can jeopardise the credibility of the world's largest economy and roil financial markets.