WASHINGTON -- The government has until the end of Thursday before its ability to borrow runs out, giving lawmakers just hours to work out the kinks of a possible deal.
After the end of the day Thursday, the federal government will be in a "cash-on-hand situation," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned senators the deadline for a deal was Thursday, when money to pay Social Security checks and benefits for veterans would be among the obligations at risk.
Raising the limit at the last minute would be "very dangerous," Lew said. After the deadline, he told lawmakers, the government will have only "cash on hand and any incoming revenues" to pay its bills.
As lawmakers are working out the timing of the votes, White House officials decided to define the deadline more clearly.
"The borrowing authority of the United States that Treasury has under current law is exhausted at the end of the day tomorrow, as the secretary has made clear repeatedly," Carney said in his afternoon briefing on Wednesday.
"Beyond that, if there's not a resolution to this and the debt ceiling isn't lifted," he said, "then we have a cash-on-hand situation when it comes to meeting our obligations."