Government may hit national debt ceiling next year

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

WASHINGTON -- The government could hit the new $7.4 trillion limit on the national debt next year-- any time from April through October, Treasury Department spokesman Rob Nichols said Monday.

President Bush last month signed a bill allowing a record $984 billion increase in the amount the federal government can borrow. It marked the second increase in the debt ceiling in roughly a year. In June 2002, the debt ceiling was increased by $450 billion to $6.4 trillion.

The issue is politically touchy. Democrats have blamed the government's need to borrow more on Bush's tax cuts, his handling of the economy and ballooning federal government budget deficits. Republicans have blamed the weak economy and the costs of fighting terrorism for the need to extend the debt limit.

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