By Margaret Chadbourn
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration on Friday notified Congress it was prepared to take a series of steps to free up about $260 billion so it can keep paying the nation's bills once a temporary suspension in the government's debt ceiling lapses this weekend.
To preserve its borrowing capacity, the Treasury Department said it would use the same measures it has used previously when Congress had failed to raise the limit. The Treasury this week took the first step, suspending sales of special Treasury securities that state and local governments use to temporarily invest proceeds from sales of municipal bonds.
Along with three other steps it outlined on Friday, the Treasury said the measures would allow the federal government to prevent defaulting on any of its obligations until after the September 2 Labor Day holiday.
The Obama administration called on Congress to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a big political fight that could potentially roil financial markets and harm the economy.
"In order to avoid a repeat of the damaging brinkmanship that occurred in 2011, Congress should remove the threat of default by taking this action as soon as possible," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told congressional leaders in a letter.
Republicans in Congress want to use the need to raise the borrowing cap as leverage to seek fresh budget cuts and change the tax code. President Barack Obama has said any deal to cut the budget deficit would need to include additional revenues, an idea that is anathema to many conservatives.
(Reporting by Margaret Chadbourn; Editing by Neil Stempleman)