10/06/2013 09:51 am ET Updated Oct 07, 2013

Jack Lew Debt Ceiling Warning: Congress 'Playing With Fire'


Treasury Secretary Jack Lew blasted Congress on Sunday morning for "playing with fire" as the nation hurtles toward the federal debt ceiling.

The United States Treasury expects to hit the debt limit on Oct. 17, after which time the governments risks defaulting on its debt for the first time in history.

"If they don't extend the debt limit," Lew said, "we have a very, very short window of time before those scenarios start to be played out."

On "Fox News Sunday," Lew had some pointed words for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), whose Republican caucus is reluctant to raise the debt ceiling or reopen the federal government without Democratic concessions on Obamacare.

I know John Boehner. We have a good relationship. I've talked to John Boehner. I know he doesn't want to default. He also didn't want to shut the government down. And here we are with a government shutdown. There's a majority in Congress that would vote to do the right thing, and the majority needs to be given the chance to work its will.

More from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew says it will be "dangerous" and "reckless" for Congress to pass an October deadline without raising the government's borrowing limit.

Lew said Sunday that on Oct. 17 the government will lose the capacity to borrow because he will have exhausted all the extraordinary measures he has been using since May to free up room for more borrowing. He said the government has never before lost its borrowing ability.

In a CNN interview, Lew said that the government will have about $30 billion of cash on hand, but he said this was not a "responsible amount of cash to run the government on."

He called on Congress to raise the $16.7 trillion borrowing limit before the deadline to avoid damage to the government's credit standing.