Lew tells Congress he will start using emergency measures to avoid debt limit next week

MarketsAssociated Press

Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew is telling Congress that he will start using the package of emergency measures he has used in the past to keep the federal government from going over the debt limit next week.

The debt limit has been suspended for the past year, meaning that Treasury could borrow as much as it needed to keep running the government. But the limit will go back into effect on Monday at whatever level of debt exists at that point.

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The nation's debt currently stands at $18.1 trillion.

Once the limit is reimposed, Treasury can employ certain accounting measures to buy time to keep the government operating without going over the debt ceiling. Lew says he will take the first of those measures on March 20.