Biden signs increase in debt ceiling

October 13, 2021

On October 14, President Joe Biden signed legislation temporarily raising the government’s borrowing limit to $28.9 trillion. Previously, the House passed a short-term measure to raise the nation’s borrowing limit to $28.9 trillion, temporarily avoiding an unprecedented default on our nation’s debt. The vote was 219 to 206 to pass the bill.

President Biden signed the bill to raise the debt ceiling by $480 billion, enough to pay the government’s bills through December 3. That aligns the new debt deadline with the expiration of a stopgap spending bill that is currently funding agencies, though the Treasury Department would likely be able to create additional flexibility by taking what it calls “extraordinary measures” to limit its daily expenditures.

Senate Republicans and Democrats struck a deal after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), offered for his party to cease its actions that had prevented Congress from addressing the debt limit. Republicans had insisted Democrats pass a long-term debt measure on their own through a process called reconciliation, which would allow the majority party to approve the bill on its own with only 51 votes. While Senate Democrats accepted McConnell’s offer and approved the two-month debt limit extension, they have maintained they will not use reconciliation to address the next deadline. With both sides holding firm, the debate will likely pick up in December when the deadline approaches for a second time.

Now that they have passed the temporary increase, Democratic Leadership can now refocus their attention on President Biden’s legislative agenda—the Build Back Better Act. They hope to use the coming weeks to resolve intraparty divisions over a sprawling domestic policy bill that is intended to address climate change, shore up public education and health care benefits, provide for paid leave and home care.