U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is urging Congress to raise the national debt limit, which the government is set to hit by October 1.
In a letter Wednesday, Paulson asked lawmakers to increase the amount of money the country can borrow, currently set at more than $9.5 trillion. He urged quick action from Congress, saying uncertainty in the U.S. Treasury could worsen turmoil in financial markets.
The national debt represents the accumulation of all of the country's annual budget deficits.
If legislation passes, it would be the fifth time the government has raised the debt limit since President Bush took office in 2001.
In other economic news, a new U.S. government report shows the prices American consumers paid for goods and services fell slightly in August for the first time this year -- indicating a subdued risk of inflation.
The Labor Department figures issued today show a drop in energy costs led the overall decline, while food prices increased last month.
A separate report issued by the Commerce Department Wednesday shows U.S. home construction weakened in August to its slowest pace in 12 years.
The construction report shows a gauge of future home-building has lowered -- indicating continued weakness in the struggling U.S. housing sector.
Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.