WASHINGTON (AP) -- Congress needs to extend the government's authority to borrow or risk an unprecedented default on the national debt, something that would cast a cloud over U.S. securities, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill warned Wednesday.
O'Neill made his latest pitch for swift congressional action on raising the debt ceiling in a speech to Republicans gathered at the Capitol Hill Club.
He has repeatedly asked Congress to boost the debt ceiling by $750 billion, but the request has become stuck in a political fight over the budget. The limit now stands at $5.95 trillion.
Treasury last week said it can shift some funds to avoid hitting the debt ceiling in mid-May. But those maneuvers won't be useful in late June, raising the prospect of a default on payments to bondholders.
"If we run into the ceiling that's really bad," O'Neill said.
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