The Bipartisan Policy Center analysis says the default date would come no later than Nov. 5 and that the government would quickly fall behind on its payments, including those for Social Security benefits and military pensions.
The think tank's estimate is in line with a warning last month by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that the government would exhaust its borrowing authority by Mid-October and be left with just $50 billion cash on hand.
The government has never defaulted on its obligations. Raising the $16.7 trillion borrowing cap promises to be a major struggle for House Republicans and President Barack Obama.
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