From the Congressional Glossary – Including Legislative and Budget Terms
Public Debt / Debt Ceiling / Debt Limit
Debt Limit – A Guide to American Federal Debt Made Easy
Public Debt: Cumulative amounts borrowed by the Treasury Department or the Federal Financing Bank from the public or from another fund or account. The public debt does not include agency debt (amounts borrowed by other agencies of the Federal Government).
Debt Ceiling / Debt Limit: When the revenues collected by the federal government are not sufficient to cover its expenditures, it must finance the shortfall through borrowing. In addition, the federal government is compelled to incur debt because of requirements that trust fund surpluses be invested in federal securities. Federal borrowing is subject to a public-debt limit established by statute: public debt is subject to a statutory limit, 31 U.S.C. 3101. As long as the federal government incurs annual deficits and trust funds incur annual surpluses, the public-debt limit must be increased periodically. The frequency of congressional action to raise the debt limit has ranged in the past from several times in one year to once in several years.
Government’s financial condition | American civics | US History | Khan Academy
Legislation to raise the public-debt limit falls under the jurisdiction of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. Congress has developed debt-limit legislation over the years in three ways: (1) under regular legislative procedures; (2) as part of reconciliation legislation; or (3) in the House, under Rule XXVII (referred to as the “Gephardt rule” after its author, former Representative Richard Gephardt (D-MO, 1977-2005). House Rule XXVII required that the House Clerk automatically engross and transmit to the Senate, upon the adoption of the budget resolution, a joint resolution changing the public debt limit to the level specified in the budget resolution. This automatic engrossing process was added to the House rules in 1979, remained in the House rules until it was removed at the beginning of the 107th Congress, was restored at the beginning of the 108th Congress, and was removed again at the beginning of the 112th Congress in 2011. The Senate has no procedure comparable to the Gephardt rule. The Senate may add nongermane provisions to debt-limit legislation considered under regular legislative procedures. For example, the 1985 Balanced Budget Act (Gramm-Rudman-Hollings) was an amendment to a debt-limit bill.
The Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 contains many elements, including a phased increase in the statutory debt limit amounting to $2.1 trillion in total.
Remy: Raise The Debt Ceiling Rap
Also see: Budget Deficit / Budget Surplus; Date Shifting / Fiscal Transparency / Fiscal Illusion; Federal Debt; § 7.60 Spending, Revenue, and Debt-Limit Legislation, § 7.100 Debt-Limit Legislation, in Congressional Deskbook; Chapter 7.J. Debt Ceiling, in Congressional Procedure.
- Statutory Limit on the Public Debt / Budget Control Act of 2011 (CongressionalGlossary.com)
- “‘Real’ Federal Deficit Four Times Official Number,” by Jason Sorens, Pileus, June 5, 2012
- Bureau of the Fiscal Service
- Federal Debt Basics – GAO
- Debt Subject to Limit Graph – Treasury Direct
- “The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases,” CRS Report RL31967 (48-page PDF)
- “The Debt Limit,” CRS In Focus IF10292 (5-page PDF)
- “Votes on Measures to Adjust the Statutory Debt Limit, 1978 to Present,” CRS Report R41814 (18-page PDF)
- “Reaching the Debt Limit: Background and Potential Effects on Government Operations,” CRS Report R41633 (30-page PDF)
- “The Debt Limit: The Need to Raise It After Four Years of Surpluses,” CRS Report RS21111 (8-page PDF)
- “Growth in Foreign Holdings of Federal Debt,” CRS Report RL33723 (11-page PDF)
- National Debt Clock – Wikipedia
- Monthly Statement of the Public Debt (MSPD) – Treasury Direct
- “Government Debt and Deficits,” by John J. Seater
- “Public Principles of Public Debt: A Defense and Restatement,” by James Buchanan
- The global debt clock – The Economist
- Country Comparison: Public debt – CIA World Factbook
- “Federal Deficits, Growing Debt, and the Economy in the Wake of COVID-19,” CRS Report R46729 (24-page PDF)
- “The Debt Limit Since 2011,” CRS Report R43389 (44-page PDF)
- “The Debt Limit in 2021,” CRS Insight IN11702 (7-page PDF)
- The Economic Effects of Financing a Large and Permanent Increase in Government Spending, Congressional Budget Office, CBO Working Paper 57201, March 2021 (42-page PDF)
- “A National Disgrace: The federal budget process threatens America’s future.” By John Steele Gordon, City Journal, February 19, 2021
- “Budget Process Reforms Included in Debt Limit Legislation,” CRS Report R47415 (25-page PDF)
- “Clearing the Air on the Debt Limit,” CRS Report R45011 (33-page PDF)
- Congressional Operations Briefing – Capitol Hill Workshop
- Drafting Federal Legislation and Amendments
- Writing for Government and Business: Critical Thinking and Writing
- Custom Training
- Congressional Operations Poster, with Federal Budget Process Flowchart
- Federal Budgeting, a Five-Course series on CD
- Congress, the Legislative Process, and the Fundamentals of Lawmaking Series, a Nine-Course series on CD
The Federal Budget Process 2E
Citizen’s Handbook to Influencing Elected Officials: A Guide for Citizen Lobbyists and Grassroots Advocates
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