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Administration pressures Congress to raise debt ceiling

WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration said yesterday it will run out of maneuvering room to manage the government's massive borrowing needs in two weeks, putting more pressure on Congress to raise the debt ceiling when it convenes for a special post-election session.

Treasury Department officials said they will be able to conduct a scheduled series of debt auctions next week to raise $51 billion. However, an auction of four-week Treasury bills due to be completed on Nov. 18 will have to be postponed unless Congress acts before then to raise the debt ceiling.

''Due to debt limit constraints, we currently do not have the capacity to settle our four-week bill auction scheduled to settle on Nov. 18," Timothy Bitsberger, acting assistant Treasury secretary for financial markets, said in a statement.

Congress is scheduled to return for a lame-duck session beginning Nov. 16 to deal with the debt ceiling, an omnibus spending plan for the rest of this budget year, and other matters.

The Republican-controlled Congress put off dealing with the debt ceiling before adjourning last month, preferring not to force members to vote on the politically sensitive issue of adding to the national debt before the elections. The government hit the current debt ceiling of $7.384 trillion Oct. 14, forcing Treasury to begin a series of bookkeeping maneuvers to keep financing the government's operations.

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