The Obama administration has ruled out minting money as a way to sidestep the nation's borrowing limit.
The Treasury Department will not produce a trillion-dollar platinum coin to pay the federal government's bills, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
The decision caps weeks of conjecture the Treasury could point to a 1997 law that authorizes the secretary to coin platinum in any denominations and quantities he chooses to deposit a coin at the Federal Reserve as collateral for the government's obligations, regardless of whether President Obama can win congressional support for lifting the debt ceiling.
"Neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve believes that the law can or should be used to facilitate the production of platinum coins for the purpose of avoiding an increase in the debt limit," Treasury spokesman Anthony Coley told the publication.
White House press secretary Jay Carney seconded the decision in a statement. "There are only two options to deal with the debt limit: Congress can pay its bills or it can fail to act and put the nation into default," Carney said Saturday. "Congress needs to do its job."
Speculation whether the administration would draw on its authority to mint a super-coin has swirled since Dec. 31, when the U.S. reached its $16.4 trillion borrowing cap.
Though the Treasury can shuffle spending to forestall the government's inability to honor its obligations, Secretary Timothy Geithner has advised congressional leaders that the department expects to exhaust such measures by March.
House Republicans have said an extension of the debt limit should be tied to spending cuts while Democrats in the Senate have urged the president to act unilaterally if necessary to avoid a default.
The administration's decision to refrain from minting a coin puts the onus on both branches of government to forge a deal and sets up a battle like the one in 2011, when the president signed an extension of the debt limit over the House's objections.
On New Year's Day, the president told reporters he would "not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they've already racked up through the laws that they passed."