The Insider

CBO predicts government will hit debt ceiling in early March

January 31, 2018 |
Tony Bertuca

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office now predicts the federal government will run out of money in early March unless the debt limit is increased, revising an earlier estimate that put the deadline sometime in late March or early April.

The new deadline is likely to further stress the political standoff over spending and immigration on Capitol Hill, where Congress is operating under a short-term spending bill -- its fourth for fiscal year 2018 -- set to expire Feb. 8.

"CBO projects that if the debt limit remains unchanged, the ability to borrow using extraordinary measures will be exhausted and the Treasury will most likely run out of cash in the first half of March 2018," according to a Jan. 31 report. "If that occurred, the government would be unable to pay its obligations fully, and it would delay making payments for its activities, default on its debt obligations, or both."

The report acknowledges, however, that CBO's timing could be off as the size of revenue collections and of outlays over the next few weeks "could differ noticeably from CBO's projections."

CBO previously projected that the "extraordinary measures" to extend the deadline would be exhausted by late March or early April, but revised that estimate after accounting for the revenue impact of the massive tax legislation package Republicans ushered through Congress.

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