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U.S. Treasury activates another maneuver to avoid breaching debt limit

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen activated another extraordinary cash management measure on Tuesday to avoid breaching the federal debt limit, suspending daily reinvestments in a large government retirement fund that holds Treasury debt, the department said.

US Yellen Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she remains hopeful the US labour market will remain healthy.
January 25, 2023
By David Lawder
25 January 2023

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) – U.S. Treasury Secretary
Janet Yellen activated another extraordinary cash management
measure on Tuesday to avoid breaching the federal debt limit,
suspending daily reinvestments in a large government retirement
fund that holds Treasury debt, the department said.

In a letter notifying Congress of the move to access the
Government Securities Investment Fund (G Fund), Yellen did not
alter a projected early June deadline for when the Treasury may
no longer be able to pay the nation’s bills without an increase
in the $31.4 trillion statutory borrowing limit.

“The statute governing G Fund investments expressly
authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to suspend investment
of the G Fund to avoid breaching the statutory debt limit,”
Yellen wrote in the letter to House of Representatives Speaker
Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, and other congressional leaders.
“My predecessors have taken this suspension action in similar
circumstances.”

Yellen last week suspended reinvestments in two other
retirement and health benefit funds as the government nominally
reached the debt ceiling. Republicans who now control the House
have threatened to oppose a debt ceiling increase without
spending reductions from the Biden administration.

The G-Fund maneuver is one of the largest tools that
Treasury can employ to reclaim borrowing capacity under the debt
ceiling. The fund, part of the Thrift Savings Plan for federal
employees, had net assets of $210.9 billion at the end of 2021,
according to its most recent annual report.

Normally the money market-like retirement fund reinvests its
entire balance daily into special-issue Treasury securities that
count against the debt limit. Halting the reinvestments allows
more normal Treasury bills, notes and bonds to be issued.

But the Treasury is required by law to replenish the fund,
along with any lost earnings, once a debt limit impasse ends.
Federal retirees and employees would be unaffected by this
action.

“I respectfully urge Congress to act promptly to protect the
full faith and credit of the United States,” Yellen wrote,
repeating a regular line in her letters to lawmakers.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan
Oatis)

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