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Washington (AFP) – The U.S. Treasury said Wednesday that it would exhaust its ability to borrow funds to pay all its bills by late February if Congress does not increase the country’s borrowing limit.

“I respectfully urge Congress to provide certainty and stability to the economy and financial markets by acting to raise the debt limit before February 7, 2014, and certainly before late February,” Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said in a letter to Congress.

Lew said the agency can take “extraordinary measures” in managing its finances to keep funding the government after the debt cap is reached on February 7.

But such measures would only give it flexibility to meet all of the country’s obligations through late February.

Lew noted that in the previous political showdowns over raising the borrowing cap over the past three years, the Treasury had more flexibility in its accounts to manage longer after the ceiling was hit.

But the February 7 deadline — when the cap will be locked at the total amount borrowed at that date — comes at a time when the government experiences larger-than-usual outflows for things like tax refunds, Lew said.

In addition, he said, the accounting measures the Treasury can take to keep up with its obligations are more limited than when the Treasury hit the ceiling in the past.

U.S. debt currently stands at about $17.3 trillion.

AFP Photo/Francisco Leong

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

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Just over year before her untimely death on Friday, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared as a guest lecturer for the Clinton School of Public Service in Little Rock, AR with National Public Radio correspondent Nina Totenberg. The crowd that signed up to see "Notorious RBG" live was so large that the event had to be moved to a major sports arena – and they weren't disappointed by the wide-ranging, hour-long interview.

Witty, charming, brilliant, principled, Ginsburg represented the very best of American liberalism and modern feminism. Listen to her and you'll feel even more deeply what former President Bill Clinton says in his poignant introduction: "Only one of us in this room appointed her…but all of us hope that she will stay on that court forever."