President Obama will ask this week for a $1.2 trillion raise in the federal borrowing limit, according to a Treasury Department official.
The action would raise the country’s debt ceiling to $16.4 trillion from $15.2 trillion. News of Obama’s request was first reported by Reuters.
Lest the words “debt ceiling” spark panic over the possibility of another showdown with Congress that could bring the nation to the brink of default, fear not. The August debt deal provides for a $1.2 trillion increase that can be blocked only if Congress passes a “resolution of disapproval.”
If such a resolution were to pass, it would likely be vetoed by Obama. And any attempt by Congress to override the veto would require a two-thirds supermajority in each chamber.
On top of that, there’s the matter of timing. The August debt ceiling legislation states that any resolution of disapproval must make its way through Congress within 15 days of the president’s request.
If Obama announces his position this week, Congress would have to vote on a disapproval resolution by Jan. 14 at the latest.
But the House isn’t scheduled to return to the Capitol until Jan. 17, and the Senate doesn’t return until Jan. 23. Aides to leadership in both chambers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether any disapproval votes are planned.
If Congress fails to vote on a disapproval resolution or if the resolution doesn’t pass a vote, the borrowing limit will increase as planned.
In September, the last time the federal borrowing limit was raised, the House passed a disapproval resolution on a 232-to-186 vote, but the motion was blocked in the Senate.