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U.S. Congress set to increase debt ceiling

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With a ballooning debt load and little time left to debate, the U.S. Congress is moving to increase the debt ceiling today, January 23, 2013.

Budgets were set a few weeks ago when the U.S. Senate finally agreed to a Fiscal Cliff compromise, but in order to fulfill these budgetary measures, the debt ceiling must be increased or else the government could potentially default on its debt obligations. U.S. House Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner, are moving quickly to reach an agreement and postpone another fiscal crisis.

An increase in the debt ceiling would permit the U.S. government to borrow enough money to cover three months’ worth of payment obligations. It is therefore only a temporary measure, but it would at least keep things running and keep money flowing from the government to its various beneficiaries for another quarter.

An interesting provision in this legislation is the potential to withhold pay from U.S. Senate or House members. According to this “No Budget, No Pay” provision, members of the House and/or Senate could lose a paycheck or two if their respective Congressional chamber failed to pass a budget.

House Republicans are expected to pass the debt ceiling measure and House Democrats are expected to resist. The Senate is a different story, with both Republicans and Democrats expected to reluctantly accept the measure, even though most do not like it. The Obama White House has also expressed its willingness to accept an increase in the debt ceiling, even though it previously warned against such an action.

The result of this measure is only temporary, of course. It sets the stage for further budget battles in March as automatic spending cuts are scheduled to take place if another deal isn’t reached.

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