The U.S. government's budget deficit fell to its lowest level in eight years for the fiscal year that ended September 30, as the recovering economy boosted tax revenue.
Treasury Department officials reported Thursday that the deficit fell 9 percent to $439 billion, an amount equal to 2.5 percent of the total output of the world's largest economy.
While the deficit is growing more slowly than it has in other years, adding it to past deficits brings the total national debt to $18.4 trillion, which is around the size of the entire U.S. economy.
The Republican-dominated Congress and the Democratic Obama administration are in a political squabble over a looming deadline to renew the legal authorization for financing the debt.
Under U.S. law, Congress has to authorize borrowing money by raising the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said Thursday that Washington would hit that limit on November 3, a few days sooner than previously thought.