October 7, 2021|Updated December 15, 2021 at 11:14 a.m. EST
With just minutes to spare, lawmakers averted the risk of financial calamity that would come with failing to raise the federal debt ceiling. But it required some very complicated legislative maneuvering and could put both sides at political risk in next year’s midterm elections.
But Congress had to act before the government defaults on its loans as early as Dec. 15. It’s the second time this year there has been such a close call, and this isn’t expected to come up again until 2023.
Here’s a look at what the debt ceiling is and why we’re talking about it so much lately.