An old dispute has become the newest issue in the fiscal cliff debate: The debt ceiling.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner
has notified Congress that the nation technically hits its $16.394
trillion debt ceiling on Monday, but his department can take
"extraordinary measures" to keep paying the bills for another few
The letter raises the prospect of a rerun of the 2011
battle between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration.
The GOP's refusal to raise the debt ceiling without more budget
reductions nearly led to a U.S. default, and contributed to a downgrade
of the U.S. credit rating.
Hitting the debt ceiling also injects
another factor into talks to avoid the so-called "fiscal cliff," a
series of tax hikes and budget cuts scheduled to kick in if there is no
new debt reduction deal between the White House and Congress.
and the Democrats are seeking an increase in the debt ceiling as part
of any such agreement. The president, who spent Christmas in Hawaii,
returns to the White House on Thursday to deal with the fiscal cliff.
Some Republicans say the debt ceiling should be taken up separately it, calling the issue a way to restrain spending.
if the parties reach a deal in the next week to avoid the fiscal cliff,
it is likely that the debt ceiling will remain a source of dispute --