The U.S. Treasury Department's normally smooth debt-auction system suffered a minor tremor Wednesday. A bigger disruption may not be far behind if Congress doesn't raise the debt limit soon.

For half an hour, buyers of U.S. four-week bills were left in limbo, unsure whether or not they got the securities they were bidding for. The Treasury delayed release of the results to verify that rules which cap individual bid sizes were followed.

With little room left under the nation's debt ceiling, the Treasury has been issuing less and less shorter-term debt, offering $5 billion this week, the smallest sale of those securities on records dating to 2001. By comparison, the department sold $45 billion of those securities in July.

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