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Lawmakers working on debt ceiling deal

Update: 6:06 pm SPRINGFIELD -- Raising the national debt ceiling is the next big hurdle lawmakers will have to tackle.
Update: 6:06 pm
SPRINGFIELD -- Raising the national debt ceiling is the next big hurdle lawmakers will have to tackle. Experts say, if they don't, it will have major consequences.

The country has never hit the debt ceiling before. If it happens, this will be a first. It basically means the country won't have enough money to pay back its debt obligations and everything else.

That's a big problem because then the country will have to stop spending somewhere. It could be for government contracts, roads, state aid, or anywhere else federal dollars go. Experts worry it will be a slippery slope after that.

Other countries which own U.S. debt could lose confidence in our ability to pay, putting us in a credit downgrade. It would hit all of our wallets and put the country's future at stake.

The U.S. Treasury says, if the debt ceiling isn't raised by Thursday, it will have $30 billion cash on hand. It's less than half what the government pays out on any given day.

Lawmakers in Washington are working on a short-term fix to raise the debt ceiling enough to get through the next six weeks, but there's no guarantee it will happen.
Original: 5:05 pm
SPRINGFIELD -- Lawmakers haven't been able to reach an agreement to reopen the government, but they're starting to negotiate on increasing the debt ceiling.

Experts say it's an even bigger deal than the shutdown. Shutdowns have happened before, but not paying the nation's bills is brand new territory. It could happen next week if nothing changes.

The country is about to hit its spending limit. We're not talking about cash. Think about it like maxing out credit cards. Lawmakers have to increase the amount the U.S. can borrow, otherwise, it won't be able to pay all of its bills for money that's already been spent.

There's a new idea in Washington for a temporary increase. It could buy lawmakers an extra six weeks to sort things out, but experts say, the sooner, the better. President Obama has said he's open to the short-term solution, but there's no guarantee lawmakers will agree.
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