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S&P: Debt Ceiling Debate Won't Hurt U.S. Credit Rating

The U.S. government will take all steps necessary to guarantee the full faith and credit of the government notwithstanding the current debate over raising the government's debt ceiling, Standard & Poor's said in a press statement.

The rating agency maintains triple-'A' long-term and 'A-1+' short-term sovereign credit ratings on the U.S.

"The capacity of the U.S. to honor its debt commitments is unsurpassed," said John B. Chambers, managing director and deputy head of the sovereign ratings group, in the statement. "Although we don't expect the debate on the debt ceiling to conclude until shortly before June 28 (when the next transfer to the social security funds is due), and only after some political horse trading, we are confident that leadership in Congress and the executive will not permit the government to miss a payment on its debt," he added.

On May 14, 2002, U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill sent an update letter advising Congress of the need to increase the debt ceiling by the end of June. This differed from earlier letters to Congress in that the Treasury Secretary said he did not have the financial flexibility to avoid piercing the debt ceiling limit by the end of June. Congress has committed to taking action, but as of yet has not done so. From Standard & Poor's CreditWire

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