On Thursday, President Obama formally notified Congress that the total federal debt (debt subject to statutory limit) is within $100 billion of the debt limit and requested an increase of $1.2 trillion.
The announcement comes as no surprise, because such an increase is the anticipated third and final installment of $2.1 trillion in debt limit increases provided under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), passed at the conclusion of last summer’s debt ceiling debate.
The BCA states that Congress has 15 calendar days from the President’s notification in which to pass a resolution disapproving the debt limit increase; a House vote is expected on January 18. If the House rejects the President’s request, it is doubtful that the Senate will concur. Even if Congress does pass a joint resolution of disapproval, it is not likely to muster enough votes to override a presidential veto. Put simply, the debt limit increase is practically guaranteed.
Upon passage of the BCA last August, the debt limit automatically increased by $400 billion, from $14.294 trillion to $14.694 trillion. In late September it was raised again, this time by $500 billion, to the current limit of $15.194 trillion. The President’s request of a $1.2 trillion increase will bring the debt limit to an astounding $16.394 trillion, which is over 100 percent of U.S. GDP.