WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke reinforced his call on Thursday for Congress to raise the cap on U.S. borrowing, saying a failure to do so could lead down the same risky path that the failure of Lehman Brothers did.
During a Senate Banking Committeee hearing, Bernanke reiterated catastrophic consequences should Congress either fail to raise the limit on borrowing or edge too close to that limit.
"The worst outcome would be one in which the financial system would be again destabilized, which we saw in Lehman, which would have extremely dire consequences for the rest of the economy," Bernanke said, referring to the period following the failure of the Wall Street bank Lehman Brothers at the height of the financial crisis in 2008.
Bernanke also said that "using the debt limit as a bargaining chip is quite risky," reiterating a worry he expressed in a February press conference.
The clock is ticking: The current $14.294 trillion cap on the debt will need to be raised by early August at the latest.
According to the most recent public figures, the debt was just $14 billion shy of the cap.
Republicans in Congress don't want to raise the amount that the nation can borrow unless they can tie such bigger borrowing to other drastic budget cuts.
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