CBO: US could reach $18.1 trillion debt limit in mid-November

CBO: US could reach $18.1 trillion debt limit in mid-November

The United States will likely hit the $18.1 trillion debt limit around mid-November or early December, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted Tuesday.

The deadline is crucial for Congress, which must approve an increase in the government’s borrowing authority to prevent a first-ever default on the national debt.

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“By CBO’s estimate, the Treasury would most likely be able to continue borrowing and have sufficient cash to make its usual payments through mid-November or early December without an increase in the debt limit,” the CBO said in a report.

CBO’s projected deadline is later than the one Treasury Secretary Jack LewJack LewObama faults corrosive political rhetoric in farewell address Lew: Eliminate the 'dangerous' debt limit Five regulatory fights facing tech in 2017 MORE gave lawmakers before they left town for the August recess. He warned lawmakers they could have to deal with the debt ceiling as early as late October, though he cautioned that the situation is fluid.

Lew is expected to give lawmakers a firm deadline in the coming weeks.

At a press briefing, CBO Director Keith Hall explained that higher than expected revenue from individual and corporate income taxes has pushed back the estimation of when the Treasury Department will run out of its borrowing power.

While CBO's report was compiled well before the volatility in the stock market over the last week, Hall told reporters it may not affect much of the long-term economic outlook.

"I’m not sure we would change anything yet," he said, adding that fluctuations in the stock market don't typically affect consumers or businesses.

The Treasury has had to rely on so-called extraordinary measures to avoid default. Congress last raised the debt ceiling in February 2014.

Some outside analysts have predicted that lawmakers might tie a debt ceiling increase to a larger budget deal that raises spending limits for the next fiscal year, but negotiations have yet to begin in Congress.

—Updated at 11:21 a.m.