WASHINGTON | US Treasury takes first steps to avoid exceeding debt limit

WASHINGTON  (AP) — The Treasury Department is taking the first steps to keep the government from exceeding the $22 trillion debt limit which goes back into effect on Saturday, setting off what will likely be months of battle in Congress on finding ways to avoid an unprecedented default on the national debt.

Treasury said that it began on Friday suspending sales of a special type of Treasury security that is used by state and local governments to help manage their bond holdings.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that the government would start with this sales suspension as a way to clear space to keep the government from exceeding the limit while Congress debates raising the limit.

By MARTIN CRUTSINGER,Associated Press