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Debt Limit Analysis

By Shai Akabas, Tim Shaw

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On March 16, 2017, the debt limit was reinstated from its suspension, and the Treasury Department began to implement its so-called “extraordinary measures” to continue meeting all of the federal government’s financial obligations. BPC’s updated projections show that, absent legislative action, those measures and the cash they generate will only last until early to mid-October 2017. The day those measures are exhausted and Treasury runs out of cash on hand, known as the “X Date,” the federal government would no longer be able to pay its bills in full and on time.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in its own projection similarly estimates that the X Date will most likely arrive in early to mid-October 2017.

All of these projections carry significant uncertainty, due to the unpredictable nature of the federal government’s cash flows. Moreover, major changes in fiscal policy or economic conditions could impact the timing of the “X Date.”

Latest Updates

July 12, 2017: BPC Narrows “X-Date” Forecast to Early to Mid-October

June 29, 2017: Interactive: Federal Debt Limit Myths vs. Facts

June 12, 2017: BPC Holds “X-Date” Forecast at October/November, But with Heightened Uncertainty

March 15, 2017: BPC’s 2017 Debt Limit “X Date” Projections and State of Play

March 15, 2017: The Debt Limit at 100

March 15, 2017: Extraordinary Measures, Simplified

March 15, 2017: The Debt Limit: 100 Years and Counting

Recent History of the Debt Limit

Extraordinary Measures 101

Updated March 13, 2015: Extraordinary Measures, Simplified

Older Updates


February 7, 2017: Recent History of the Debt Limit


September 13, 2016: Debt Limit Brinksmanship Threatens to Return Next Year


October 27: Debt Limit “X-date” Range Updated to Nov. 10-16

October 26: Moody’s Debt Default Statement Doesn’t Adequately Address Risks

October 22: Treasury’s Auction Postponement: “Canary in the Coal Mine”

October 7: Treasury Will Hit “X-date” for Paying Debt Nov. 10-19

October 2: Treasury Could Run Out of Cash Mid- To Late-November

September 11: Lew Letter on Debt Limit in Line with CBO, BPC Projections

September 2: Latest Monthly Treasury Data Doesn’t Change BPC Debt Limit Projection

August 25: CBO Debt Limit Projection Consistent with BPC’s Analysis

July 10: Debt Limit Brinkmanship Threatens Markets

U.S. Government Accountability Office: Market Response to Recent Impasses Underscores Need to Consider Alternative Approaches

May 18Debt Limit Update: Strong Tax Season Moves Most Likely X-Date Window to November/December

March 13: Debt Limit Reinstatement: Why This Time is Different l Download the full analysis

March 3: Debt Limit Update: X Date Most Likely in 4Q of 2015


February 12: House-Passed Suspension Would Add Approximately $1 Trillion to Debt Limit in March 2015

February 6: What to do with the Federal Debt Limit? Five Ideas

January 30: BPC Debt Limit Projection: X Date Will Arrive Soon After Debt Limit Reinstatement

January 9: Extraordinary Measures, Simplified


December 19: Late Start to Tax Filing Season Affects X Date

November 21: Thoughts on CBO’s New Debt Limit Report

November 21: Debt Limit Suspension: Frequently Asked Questions

October 18: BPC Estimates Agreement Will Increase Debt Limit by Roughly $600 billion; Debt Limit Suspended Until February 8, 2014

October 9: Could the X Date be delayed by extending the Debt Issuance Suspension Period?

October 8: As BPC’s X Date Window Narrows, Economic Risks Grow

October 3: Will the Government Shutdown Delay the X Date?

September 25: Debt Limit Update: No Change to BPC X Date Projection

September 10: BPC’s Debt Limit Projection: Key Takeaways

August 26: Statement by the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Steve Bell on the New Debt Limit Deadline

July 16: Debt Limit Update: Still on Track for a Fall X Date

May 23: Debt Limit Reinstated at $16.7 Trillion: Updated X Date Estimate

May 9: Updated X Date Estimate: GSE Dividend Announcements

May 8H.R. 807 (the Full Faith and Credit Act) and the Debt Limit

April 26The Debt Limit: Updated X Date Projection

January 31H.R. 325, The Debt Limit, and Extraordinary Measures: A Technical Note

January 30When Will the Next Debt Limit X Date Be?

January 24

January 16

January 11

Learn More
Fiscal Outlook: Understanding The Federal Debt
U.S. Government Accountability Office