President Biden signs bill to raise the debt ceiling

On December 17, 2021, in Appropriations, by David Elrod

President Biden on Thursday signed a bill to raise the U.S. debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion, which is expected to push future action on the debt ceiling past the 2022 midterm elections.

The bill, passed by the Senate on Tuesday in a 50-49 vote and the House later that day in a 221-209 vote, raises the debt ceiling to approximately $31.4 trillion. Based on current federal spending, this is expected to authorize funding to cover expenses through early 2023.

The debt ceiling is a legislative limit on the amount of cumulative debt the U.S. is allowed to bear. Surpassing this level of debt without raising the debt ceiling could result in a downgrade in the U.S. government’s credit rating.

The federal government is currently operating under appropriations signed into law by former President Trump in late 2020. President Biden has signed two Continuing Resolutions into law since that time, extending existing appropriations until February 18, 2022. At that point, Congress with either have to pass another Continuing Resolution or pass all of its appropriations bills for FY2022.

The House has passed all 12 of its appropriations bills for FY2022, while the Senate has only passed three bills out of committees and none through the Senate floor.

Both Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) are retiring at the end of the 117th Congress.