This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
D. Andrew Austin Analyst in Economic Policy Mindy R. Levit Analyst in Public Finance January 6, 2011
Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov RL31967
CRS Report for Congress
Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress
The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases
Total debt of the federal government can increase in two ways. First, debt increases when the government sells debt to the public to finance budget deficits and acquire the financial resources needed to meet its obligations. This increases debt held by the public. Second, debt increases when the federal government issues debt to certain government accounts, such as the Social Security, Medicare, and Transportation trust funds, in exchange for their reported surpluses. This increases debt held by government accounts. The sum of debt held by the public and debt held by government accounts is the total federal debt. Surpluses reduce debt held by the public, while deficits raise it. Total federal debt outstanding was $14,025 billion on December 31, 2010. The U.S. Treasury projects the federal debt will reach its statutory limit in spring 2011, although tax policy, spending changes, and economic trends, will affect that timing. Without a debt limit increase, funding federal operations after the middle of 2011 may be complicated. A statutory limit has restricted total federal debt since 1917 when Congress passed the Second Liberty Bond Act. Congress has voted to raise the debt limit ten times since 2001. Deficits each year since 2001 and the persistent increases in debt held by government accounts repeatedly raised the debt to or near the limit in place at the time. Congress raised the limit in June 2002, and by December 2002 the U.S. Department of the Treasury asked Congress for another increase, which was passed in May 2003. In June 2004, the Treasury asked for another debt limit increase. After Congress recessed in mid-October 2004 without acting, the Secretary of the Treasury told Congress that the actions he was taking to avoid exceeding the debt limit would suffice only through mid-November. Congress approved a debt limit increase in a post-election session, which the President signed on November 19, 2004. In 2005, reconciliation instructions in the FY2006 budget resolution (H.Con.Res. 95) included a debt limit increase. With no action having been taken by December 2005, the Secretary of the Treasury sent several letters warning Congress that the Treasury would exhaust its options to avoid default by mid-March 2006. Congress passed an increase in mid-March, which the President signed on March 20. The House indirectly approved legislation (H.J.Res. 43) to raise the debt limit by $850 billion to $9,815 billion. The Senate approved the resolution on September 27, 2007, and it was signed by the President two days later. The current economic slowdown led to sharply higher deficits in recent years, which led to a series of debt limit increases. The Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (H.R. 3221), signed into law (P.L. 110-289) on July 30, 2008, included a debt limit increase. The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424), signed into law on October 3 (P.L. 110-343), raised the debt limit again. The debt limit rose a third time in less than a year to $12,104 billion with the passage of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 on February 13, 2009 (ARRA; H.R. 1), which was signed into law on February 17, 2009 (P.L. 111-5). The House’s adoption of the conference report on the FY2010 budget resolution (S.Con.Res. 13) on April 29, 2009, triggered the automatic passage of H.J.Res. 45 to raise the debt limit to $13,029 billion. In August 2009, Treasury reportedly said that the debt limit would be reached in mid-October, although it later stated that the limit would not be reached until December 2009. H.R. 4314, passed by the House on December 16, 2009, and by the Senate on December 24, raised the debt limit to $12,394 billion when the President signed the measure (P.L. 111-123) on December 28. On January 28, the Senate passed an amended version of H.J.Res. 45, which the House passed on February 4 and the President signed on February 12 (P.L. 111-139), raising the limit to $14,294 billion. This report, written with the assistance of Joseph McCormack, will be updated as events warrant.
Congressional Research Service
.................................1 The Debt Limit and the Treasury.. 2006..............................................................................................................3 World War II and After................................................................................................................................................ 18 Further Reading ....................................................................................................................................................................... Increases in the Debt Limit Since 1993 ......................................................................................................9 Resolving the Debt Limit Issue in 2002. 18 Concluding Comments.......................... 20 Figures Figure 1...... 24 Congressional Research Service ................................The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases Contents Introduction ........................ and 2010 ................................................................................................................... September 2001-December 2010......................................... 21 Contacts Author Contact Information ..........3 A Brief History of the Federal Debt Limit ........................................ 14 Deficit Estimates.............. 10 The Debt Limit Issue in 2004 ................................. 2009............ FY1940-FY2009 ..........................................................................................................................................................2 Why Have a Debt Limit?..... 21 Appendixes Appendix............................................................................................................................................. 11 The Debt Limit Issue in 2005..............................................................................................................3 Origins of the Federal Debt Limit............................................................................... and 2007 .... 12 The Economic Slowdown and Federal Debt ...... FY1996-FY2010 ........ Components of Federal Debt As a Percentage of GDP............................................................................................................................................................................................. Debt Subject to Limit by Month.................................................................5 The Debt Ceiling in the Last Decade ................................5 The Debt Limit Issue in 2002 ........6 Table 2......8 Tables Table 1.... Components of Debt Subject to Limit.......... Debt Subject to Limit by Month Since September 2001............. 13 Raising the Debt Ceiling in 2008............................................ 17 Table A-1.................. 13 Fiscal Policy Considerations ..........................................................................................................................................................9 The Debt Limit Issue in 2003 ........................................
debt held outside the federal government itself) and to federal debt held by the government’s own accounts.5% of total debt is excluded from debt limit coverage. seigniorage. as well as Debt held by the Federal Financing Bank and Guaranteed Debt. Treasury Timothy Geithner.treasurydirect. The Treasury defines “Total Public Debt Subject to Limit” as “the Total Public Debt Outstanding less Unamortized Discount on Treasury Bills and ZeroCoupon Treasury Bonds. Secretary of the U. 2010. old debt issued prior to 1917.cfm?index=11705. 1. the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the FY2011 budget deficit will total $1. 2011. 2010. Transportation. Approximately 0.2 The government’s surpluses or deficits determine essentially all of the change in debt held by the public. which excludes a small U. such as the Social Security Trust Fund. hold most of this internally held debt.4 Increases or decreases in debt held by government accounts result from net financial flows into accounts holding the debt. 8 Wrightson ICAP. 2011. December 13.025 billion. Medicare.S. and debt subject to the debt limit was $13.gov/doc. The 12 largest trust funds hold 98. and capitalization of financing accounts used to fund federal credit programs—have relatively little effect on the changes in debt held by the public. and Civil Service Retirement accounts.9 Without a debt limit increase. 3 Other means of financing—including cash balance changes. 7 U.gov/NP/BPDLogin?application=np. such as Social Security. does not directly affect debt held in government accounts.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases Introduction The statutory debt limit applies to almost all federal debt. The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update. available at http://fms.5 On December 31. including federal tax policy and strength of the economic recovery. although many factors. 1 Congressional Research Service 1 . August 19. 4 In future years. see http://www.8% of the federal debt held in government accounts. 5 Trust fund surpluses by law must be invested in special federal government securities. The debt limit is codified as 31 USC 3101. Legal requirements and government accounting practices also affect levels of debt held by government accounts. p. which suggests that federal debt will reach its limit some time in spring 2011.gov/dts/index. 9 Paul M.cbo. and old currency called United States Notes.1 The limit applies to federal debt held by the public (that is. when some trust funds are projected to pay out more than they take in. Congressional Budget Office.treasurydirect. Federal trust funds. 2010. The Money Market Observer. 2011.S. letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid.S. funds that the Treasury would use to redeem those intergovernmental debts must be obtained via higher taxes or lower government spending. Krawzak. Treasury Secretary Geithner sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stating that federal debt limit would likely reach its statutory limit between March 31 and May 16. total federal debt outstanding was $14.treas. 6 Daily data on federal debt can be obtained at the Treasury Department’s Bureau of the Public Debt website: http://www. Data on debt subject to limit are provided in the Daily Treasury Statement. January 6.S.066 billion.973 billion.7 Some Wall Street analysts expect federal debt to near its limit in April or May 2011.294 billion. Treasury may face difficulty in funding federal operations after the middle of 2011. 2 Although there are hundreds of trust funds. could affect federal debt trends.” CQ Today Online News. the U.html.6 In August 2010.” For details. unless spending or revenue policies are altered or the debt limit is again raised.gov. “Showdown Ahead on Debt Limit as Geithner Urges Action. available at http://www. dated January 6. about $320 billion below the current statutory debt limit of $14. Postal Service net surplus or deficit and a large Social Security surplus of payroll taxes net of paid benefits.3 The government’s on-budget fiscal balance.8 On January 6. 2011. the overwhelming majority are very small.
A government that delays payment of an obligation. Default might be avoided in such situations by delaying other types of federal payments and transfers. see archived CRS Report 95-1109. even for the major accounts that usually show annual surpluses. December 28.13 10 For details. beneficiaries.12 Past Treasury Secretaries.S. Sec. Levit. state and local governments. limiting the U. §3902. Among other consequences. have used special strategies to handle cash and debt management responsibilities. Actions taken in the past include suspending sales of nonmarketable debt. the government would no longer meet all of its legal obligations in a timely manner. which would risk causing serious negative repercussions for economies and financial markets around the world. This memorandum is available upon request by congressional offices. If the U.11 and the Internal Revenue Code.C. along with the authority to make those funds whole after an easing of the debt constraint.. but the debt limit may prevent it from issuing the debt that would allow it to do so on time. Treasury’s ability to borrow on advantageous terms in the future. 13 For details. by Thomas J. the Treasury is left in a bind. in effect. which directs the government to pay interest penalties to contractors if it does not pay them by the required payment date. 11 31 U. Available upon request from authors. Congress has authorized the Treasury Secretary to invoke a “debt issuance suspension period” to use some of these strategies using the Civil Service Retirement Fund and the Thrift Savings Fund. In either case.S.S.S. when faced with a nearly binding debt ceiling. delaying payments incurs interest penalties under some statutes such as the Prompt Payment Act. Treasury’s borrowing authority. financial management has become more complicated. When federal debt has neared the debt limit in the past. and withholding receipts that would be transferred to certain government trust funds. The government accounts holding federal debt also can experience monthly deficits and surpluses. whether or not the government has a surplus or deficit for the entire year. producing monthly surpluses and deficits that affect the level of debt. which requires the government to pay interest penalties if tax refunds are delayed beyond a certain date. the government may be unable to obtain the cash needed to pay its bills or it may be unable to invest the surpluses of designated government accounts (federal trust funds) in federal debt as generally required by law.) Congressional Research Service 2 . the law requires that the government’s legal obligations be paid. a sustained inability to pay obligations on time could hinder the U. In some cases.S.S. 12 26 U. The government’s income and outlays vary over the course of the year. 8348(b) defines a debt issuance suspension period as “any period for which the Secretary of the Treasury determines for purposes of this subsection that the issuance of obligations of the United States may not be made (continued. Authority to Tap Trust Funds and Establish Payment Priorities if the Debt Limit is not Increased. Treasury were precluded from borrowing due to a binding debt limit in times when federal outlays outpaced revenues.S. or employees who are not paid on time.10 If the limit prevents the Treasury from issuing new debt to manage short-term cash flows or to finance an annual deficit. 2010.C. coordinated by Mindy R..C. Nicola and Morton Rosenberg. §6611. postponing or downsizing marketable debt auctions. 5 U. The ability to borrow is a central to Treasury cash management systems that handle fluctuations in federal revenues and outlays.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases The Debt Limit and the Treasury Standard methods of financing federal activities or meeting government obligations used by the U. see the CRS congressional distribution memorandum Reaching the Debt Limit. A delay in interest payments on Treasury securities would trigger a default. borrows from vendors. contractors. Department of Treasury (Treasury) can be hobbled when federal debt nears its legal limit.
40 Stat. 135-185. the Treasury Secretary must report to Congress as soon as possible regarding fund balances and any extraordinary actions taken. Congressional Research Service 3 .S. Cooke and M. In the words of one author. October 22. “The Public Debt Limit.” Harvard Journal on Legislation. p. Currently codified as amended as 31 U. “Why Congress Must Now Abolish its Debt Limit. 1917. May 2004.14 While the debt limit has never caused the federal government to default on its obligations. 9. see Anita S. arguing that other controls provided by the modern congressional budget process established in 1974 have superseded the debt limit. vol. 11. allowing Congress to assert its constitutional prerogatives to control spending.gao.. § 3101.items/d04526. The National Debt Ceiling: An Experiment in Fiscal Policy.”16 On the other hand. “In Defense of the Debt Limit Statute. the debt limit “expresses a national devotion to the idea of thrift and to economical management of the fiscal affairs of the government. 288. DC: The Brookings Institution. 14 U. Washington. 42. 19 H. In extreme cases. 18 P. p. pp. 17 Bruce Bartlett.k).17 A Brief History of the Federal Debt Limit Origins of the Federal Debt Limit The statutory limit on federal debt began with the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917. The U. Robinson. 16 Marshall A. 298303.19 By allowing the Treasury to issue (.” Journal of Finance. 2005. 8348(j. 65-43. The debt limit also provides Congress with the strings to control the federal purse. no.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases Some U. vol. some budget experts have advocated elimination of the debt limit.C.continued) without exceeding the public debt limit.” After a debt issuance suspension period ends. For details. Treasury. 2009. GAO-04-526. the Treasury must take unusual and extraordinary measures to meet federal obligations. Katzen. however. pp. Drishnakumar.18 which helped finance the United States’ entry into World War I. it has at times caused great inconvenience and has added uncertainty to Treasury operations. 15 For a vigorous assertion of the utility of the debt ceiling. General Accounting Office (GAO). 5.gov/new.S. and that the limit does little to alter spending and revenue policies that determine the size of the federal deficit.S. Why Have a Debt Limit? The debt limit can hinder the Treasury’s ability to manage the federal government’s finances.S. Analysis of Actions Taken during the 2003 Debt Issuance Suspension Period. J..pdf. as noted above.” Financial Times. is unlikely to maintain smooth debt management operations indefinitely in the face of a continuing imbalance between federal revenues and outlays without an increase in the debt limit. 3 (September 1954). see 5 USC Sec.15 The debt limit also imposes a form of fiscal accountability that compels Congress and the President to take visible action to allow further federal borrowing when the federal government spends more than it collects in revenues. 1959. when the federal debt is very near its statutory limit.L. enacted September 24. Treasury responses to the credit crunch that began in mid 2007 created balance sheet items that might expand options available to the Treasury Secretary. available at http://www.
Series Y 493-504. 1898). 57135728. §1 (13 Stats. which created the first aggregate limit that covered nearly all public debt. 172.24 With the passage of the Second Liberty Bond Act. See House debate. far above the $25. certificates. Robert D. interest-bearing securities. such as certificates of indebtedness. H. to choose debt instruments.” was enacted June 13. 1864.22 For example. 76-201. the 1898 War Revenue Act (30 Stat. 22 Marshall A. vol. and bonds. 93-78 (Washington: GPO. 27 U.26 On the other hand. especially in time of war. part 6 (June 9. pp. 448-470) that funded Spanish-American War costs granted the Treasury Secretary the authority to issue $100 million in certificates of indebtedness with maturities under a year and $400 million in longer term notes and bonds. 1975).4 billion total federal debt of that time.L. the 1919 Victory Liberty Bond Act (P. 25 P. See Senate debate. such as bills. Thus. vol. Treasury certificates of indebtedness were short-term. 218) and of March 3. Congress provided the Treasury with discretion. pp. Congressional Record. 4. 6480. bills.S. 33) were drawn from the Acts of June 30. 24 Some opponents raised concerns that granting the Treasury Secretary authority to issue debt could affect monetary policies. Much of the legislative text of the Act’s public borrowing sections (§32. Some authors claimed the aggregate limit was first created in Public Debt Act of 1941 (P. 469). notes and bonds. ch. For example. pp. ch. the debt limit on the eve of World War II was much closer to total federal debt than it had been at the end of World War I. Congressional Record. Such concerns became less relevant after the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Treasury notes are interest-bearing securities that generally have maturities of two to five years. In 1939.21 In other cases. part 6 (June 1.27 By contrast. Debt limit legislation in the following two decades also set separate limits for different categories of debt. such as the Panama Canal loan. 6497-6501. DC: The Brookings Institution. 21 20 Congressional Research Service 4 . Congress enacted aggregate constraints on certificates of indebtedness and on bonds that allowed the Treasury greater ability to respond to changing conditions and more flexibility in financial management. although the Treasury was delegated greater independence of action. Congress often authorized specific loans.L.L. Treasury bonds are interest-bearing securities that generally have maturities of 10 or more years. Bureau of the Census. The 1939 Senate floor debate. 1939). Doc. The National Debt Ceiling: An Experiment in Fiscal Policy. or allowed the Treasury to issue specific types of debt instruments. only about 10% above the $40. 31. the Treasury could issue debt instruments with maturities that would reduce interest costs and minimize financial risks stemming from future interest rate changes. ch. 5734-5749. makes clear that Congress intended to lift categorical debt restrictions. formally “An Act to Provide Ways and Means to Meet War Expenditures and for Other Purposes. Treasury bills are securities with a maturity of a year or less. 77 (13 Stats. 26 This limit did not apply to certain previous public debt issues that constituted a minor portion of the federal debt. subject to broad limits. (New York: Henry Holt. 1898. Hormats. 65-328) raised the maximum allowable federal debt to $43 billion.25 This measure gave the Treasury freer rein to manage the federal debt as it saw fit. 1959). 23 The War Revenue Act. 1898.1-6. 84. pp. which might tighten credit conditions. (Washington.20 Before World War I.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases long-term Liberty Bonds.23 Proponents of the Act made clear their intention to allow the Treasury Secretary substantial administrative leeway. 77-7).5 billion in total federal debt at the end of FY1919. 1865. The Price of Liberty. Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1970. however. 2007). and Senate debate on June 10. Congress eliminated separate limits on bonds and on other types of debt. the debt limit in 1939 was $45 billion. Robinson. the federal government held down its interest costs. which were marketed to the public at large.
L. Treasury publications did not divide debt subject to limit by that held by the public and that held by government accounts. Congressional Budget Office.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8990/03-19-AnalPresBudget. An Analysis of the President’s Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2009. until March 1962 when it again reached $300 billion. debt held by the public as a share of GDP again increased. when it was set at $300 billion. 79-48). deficits shrank.L. in May 2003. the limit remained at $275 billion until 1954.S. and the on-budget surplus in FY2000 was 0. Table 1 uses CRS calculations that approximate levels of debt subject to limit held in these two categories for fiscal years prior to 2001. Table 1 shows components of debt in current dollars and as percentages of gross domestic product (GDP).30 Figure 1 shows the components of federal debt as shares of gross domestic product (GDP) from FY1940 through FY2010. its level at the end of World War II.pdf. 1944 (P. grew as a share of GDP through the mid-1990s. The total FY2007 deficit fell to 1. 32 Federal on-budget receipts and outlays nearly matched in FY1999. For instance.S. This percentage increases when debt grows faster than GDP and falls when it grows more slowly than GDP. Congress. Smaller deficits in FY2006 and FY2007 led to smaller increases in publicly held debt. however.S.cbo. the federal government last had an on-budget surplus in FY1960.2% of GDP according to CBO.33 Financial turmoil in 2007 and 2008 and a subsequent recession that began in late 2007 led to federal actions taken to stabilize the housing 28 29 Public Debt Acts of 1941 (P. FY2010 Budget of the U. Debt held in government accounts also has grown. the debt limit was reduced to $275 billion. 30 Until 2001. were large in dollar terms. the debt limit increased by $984 billion.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases World War II and After The debt ceiling was raised to accommodate accumulating costs for World War II in each year from 1941 through 1945. Government: Historical Tables.31 Federal debt held by government accounts has grown steadily since 1980.28 After World War II ended. in large part because Social Security payroll taxes have exceeded payments of beneficiaries. Some recent increases in the debt limit. Table 7-3. 31 The data show components of debt compared to the size of the economy. Since FY2001. the debt limit was reduced twice and increased seven times. After 1954. however.L.29 Most of these changes in the debt limit were. The Debt Ceiling in the Last Decade During the four years (FY1998-FY2001) the government ran surpluses. Social Security receipts in excess of benefits make up most of the off-budget surplus. 33 U. Congress has enacted 74 separate measures that have altered the limit on federal debt. debt held by the public has grown due to persistent and substantial budget deficits. small in comparison to changes adopted in wartime or during the Great Depression. This avoids possible distortions resulting from changing price levels over time and includes changes in per capita incomes. 78-333). measured in percentage terms.L. When large deficits returned and GDP growth slowed in the early 2000s. available at http://www. Debt held by the public. Office of Management and Budget. which has been positive since FY1985. Congressional Research Service 5 .32 Those surpluses.9% of GDP. 77-7). March 2008. and from FY1998 through FY2001 the federal government ran surpluses. reduced debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP. Since March 1962. federal debt held by intergovernmental accounts grew by $855 billion and debt held by the public fell by almost $450 billion. Prior to FY1999. 1942 (P. After FY1992. and 1945 (P. along with rapid GDP growth. Because the Korean War was mostly financed by higher taxes rather than by increased debt. which changes in response to total surpluses or deficits. 77-510). U. 1943 (78-34).
1 25.432.7 3.903.4 3.2 65.436. to $12.6 29.8 40.073.6 58. The recession reduced federal revenues and increased federal spending.909.420. Because the amount held by government accounts is overestimated.7 4.9 34.615 billion on July 30 and then to $11. CRS calculations. Monthly Statement of Public Debt.6 5.9 27.500 5.358.517.4 1.4 24.9 61. Financial Management Service.510.017.581.3 9.591.0 64.184 8.384 8.5 2. The numbers in the table showing this breakdown for FY1996 through FY2000 were calculated by subtracting debts of the Federal Financing Bank.4 3.921.276.2 36.161.4 37.950 5.7% 64.846.737.551.FY2010 Debt Limit $5.567. the amounts held by government accounts and held by the public are approximations.950 5. an arm of the Treasury whose debt is not subject to limit.732.022.0 3.315 billion on October 3.8 3. This calculation approximates the amount of that debt subject to limit.1 1.704.4 5.1 4. the Treasury publications began distinguishing holders of debt subject to limit.697.965 9. Treasury Bulletin.1 Held by Government Accounts $ Billion 1.0 % of GDP 65.1 22.3 7.2 60.780.610. This approximation overestimates debt by billions of dollars because estimates of unamortized discount are unavailable.950 5.5 Source: U.950 5.0 56.745.6 $2. Bureau of the Public Debt.400 7.8 4.5 28.570.809. Department of the Treasury.871.6 3.104c 14.5 36.3 61.333.9 2. FY1996-FY2010 (in billions of current dollars and as percentage of GDP) Debt Subject to Limit Total End of Fiscal Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Change during FY1998 .8 31.4% 45. Components of Debt Subject to Limit.2 62.4 30.7 3.7 36. leading to large deficits and a series of debt limit increases.5 32.439.950 6.815 billion.7 5.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases and financial markets.8 3.3 3. Totals may not sum due to rounding.9 9.4 7.5 33.644.FY2001 Change during FY2002 .3 8. June 2001 and December 2006.8 $405.960.296.0 4.9 % of GDP 47.3 25.6 35.384 7. the resulting measure of debt held by the public subject to limit is underestimated. to $9.056. a. b.890.5 64.9 26.0 11. c.742.301.815a 10. at the start of FY2009.2 2.4 62.0 19.778.585.1 % of GDP 18.180.294d $ Billion $5.137.5 3.704.8 $-449. Notes: For the fiscal years 1996 through 2000.9 1.1 42. 2009.104 billion.615b 12.2 $7.2 5.5 $5. In 2001.0 26.1 92.6 5.0 8.3% 19. This adjusted amount was then subtracted from total debt subject to limit to produce an approximate measure of debt held by the public subject to limit. 2007.387.6 7. Debt limit increased September 29. from total debt held by government accounts.6 53.2 2.2 3.4 70.609.6 5.0 4.3 Held by the Public $ Billion 3. The debt limit was increased twice in 2008—to $10.8 13. Table 1.8 4. Debt limit was increased February 17.S.4 6.8 5. Congressional Research Service 6 .327.203.8 6. various issues.9 21.3 38.7 $854.0 84.1 57.958.
294 billion. Congressional Research Service 7 .The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases d. 2010. to $14. Debt limit was increased February 12.
August 2009. Mid-Session Review. Budget of the United States for FY2010. Historical Tables. FY1940-FY2009 Source: OMB.Figure 1. Components of Federal Debt As a Percentage of GDP. February 2009. CRS-8 .
putting the debt close to the $5.949. just $25 million below the limit. debt subject to limit increased by another $217 billion. On May 14. the Administration asked Congress repeatedly to increase the debt limit. 35 For a comprehensive discussion of the Treasury’s previous uses of its short-term ability to avoid breaching the debt limit. debt subject to limit had fallen back $35 billion below the limit. Debt Ceiling: Analysis of Actions During the 1995-1996 Crisis. 34 Between then and the end of May 2002.S. shows month-by-month debt totals and accumulations from September 2001 through December 2010. Resolving the Debt Limit Issue in 2002 By the middle of May 2002. During the four fiscal years with surpluses (FY1998-FY2001). As the debt moved closer to and reached the debt limit over the first six months of FY2002. 1997. it asked Congress to raise the debt limit by $750 billion to $6. GAO/AIMD-96-130. divided between a $117 billion increase in debt held by government accounts and a $100 billion increase in debt held by the public. the government will exceed the statutory debt ceiling no later than May 16. however. presented in the Appendix. the Administration recognized that a deteriorating budget outlook and continued growth in debt held by government accounts were likely to lead to the debt limit soon being reached. August 1996. as part of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (P.975 million. 111 Stat. Once April 15 tax revenues flowed in. On April 4. In the fall of 2001. see U. the Treasury asked Congress to raise the debt limit or enact other statutory changes allowing the Treasury to issue new debt. would persist without an increase in the debt limit. 2002.950 billion limit.500 billion to $5.700 billion.L. the increases in federally held debt and decreases in debt held by the public produced a net increase of $405 billion in total debt subject to limit. The Treasury. As deficits reemerged in FY2002. the Treasury held debt below the limit by invoking its legislatively mandated authority to suspend reinvestment of government securities in the G-Fund of the federal employees’ Thrift Savings Plan (TSP). Congressional Research Service 9 . General Accounting Office. At the FY2002 average spending rate.” and that 34 The debt limit was raised from $5. On April 15. 251).The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases The Debt Limit Issue in 2002 Accumulating debt in government accounts produced most of the pressure on the debt limit that occurred early in 2002. 105-33. warning of adverse financial consequences were the limit not raised. the Treasury “made whole” the GFund by restoring all of the debt that had not been issued to the TSP over this period and crediting the fund with interest it would have earned on that debt. 2001). In early December 2001. for the second time in 2002. A Treasury news release stated “absent extraordinary actions. This allowed the Treasury to issue new debt and meet the government’s obligations. At the beginning of FY2002 (October 1. debt subject to limit was within $217 billion of the existing $5. increases in debt held by the public added to the pressure on the debt limit in the spring of 2002. $15 million equaled about five minutes of federal outlays.950 billion debt limit. debt subject to limit stood at $5. The Treasury’s financing problems.950 billion on August 5.35 By the end of April. debt subject to limit had again risen to within $15 million of the statutory limit. used its statutory authority to avoid a default. Table A-1.
through June 28. 2003. Congressional Research Service 10 .. However. The President signed the bill into law on June 28 (P. GAO-03-134. used legislatively mandated measures to manage debt holdings of certain government accounts to avoid reaching the debt limit. the Senate adopted a bill (S. 107-199. Treasury Statement on the Debt Ceiling.htm. 2578). which will provide flexibility to fund the operations of the government during this period. By February 20.R.treas. non-debt instruments. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. incorporated as an amendment to H. Without a debt limit increase by that date. 2002) omitted debt-limit-increasing language. May 14.L.38 The 108th Congress. 38 Kenneth Dam. after extended debate. Dennis Hastert.gov/press/releases/po3718. These actions allowed the Treasury to issue additional debt to the public to acquire the cash needed to pay for the government’s commitments or to issue new debt to other federal accounts. 2002. which enabled it to issue new debt to meet the government’s obligations. 2551.400 billion. 36 37 U. Treasury News. Debt Ceiling: Analysis of Actions During the 2002 Debt Issuance Suspension Period. At that time. By June 21.S.37 The Debt Limit Issue in 2003 On Christmas Eve. a $450 billion debt limit increase was thought to provide enough borrowing authority for government operations through the rest of calendar year 2002. see U. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury sent a letter to Congress requesting an unspecified increase in the debt limit by late February 2003. Through the winter and into the spring. With the possibility of default looming over it. ending the 2002 debt limit crisis. General Accounting Office. 2002. 4775. 116 Stat. The Treasury claimed these extraordinary actions would suffice. did not immediately respond. the Treasury stated it would soon exhaust all options to issue debt and fulfill government obligations. letter to Speaker of the House. Congress took steps to increase the debt limit. without debate. 2002.. the Treasury repeatedly requested that the debt limit be raised to avoid serious financial problems. 4775) passed by the House on May 24 included. During May and June 2002. to raise the debt limit by $450 billion to $6. June 3. December 2002. 2002. language allowing any eventual House-Senate conference on the legislation to increase the debt limit. on June 11. 734). the House passed the $450 billion debt limit increase by a single vote on June 27. Instead. still in the process of organizing itself. signaling that the $6.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases a “debt issuance suspension period” will begin no later than May 16 . if not through the summer of 2003.R. the Treasury. Department of the Treasury. For additional details. but took no other actions. available at http://www. the Treasury indicated it would need to take other actions to avoid breaching the ceiling. as in 2002. These actions included the replacement of internally held government debt with non-debt instruments in certain government accounts and not issuing new debt to these accounts.400 billion debt limit would then be reached.36 The Treasury reduced federal debt held by these government accounts by replacing it with noninterest-bearing. [This] allows the Treasury to suspend or redeem investments in two trust funds. December 24.S. the Treasury had postponed a regular securities auction. Kenneth Dam. the Senate’s supplemental appropriations bill (S. With large payments and other obligations due at the end of June and at the beginning of July. The Senate leadership expressed strong reluctance to include a debt limit increase in the supplemental appropriation bill.. The FY2002 supplemental appropriations bill (H. putting the government on the verge of a default. at the latest.
. Developing Debt-Limit Legislation: The House’s “Gephardt Rule”. CBO estimated that the debt limit. the Treasury would be unable to meet all of the government’s existing obligations. Congressional Budget Office.384 billion. The Senate adopted the legislation. the Treasury held debt subject to limit $15 million below the debt ceiling.L. Treasury. which could undermine the U. Without a budget resolution passed by Congress. but did not act until May 23. 117 Stat. 95. 108-71) on April 11. 2004. 39 Congressional Research Service 11 . who signed it on May 27.39 The adoption of the conference report on the FY2004 budget resolution (H. Earlier.J. As the debt approached the limit through the summer and into the fall. and CRS Report RL31913. by Bill Heniff Jr. Although the House passed a budget resolution for FY2005 in the spring of 2004. On October 14. government’s reputation in capital markets and raise costs of federal borrowing.0004%) below the existing $6. The Treasury reduced the amount of debt held by selected federal accounts while it sold an equal (or smaller) amount of debt to the public. 710). 2004. after receiving further Treasury warnings of imminent default.975 million.43 Without an increase in the debt limit. no resolution to raise the debt limit could be deemed passed by the House automatically under the Gephardt rule. 108-24. 51) raising the debt limit to accommodate the spending and revenue levels approved in the adopted budget resolution. the Treasury declared that the debt limit would be reached in the first half of October. June 5.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases Through the rest of February and into May. 40 The Senate received the debt-limit legislation on April 11.Rept.gov/press/releases/reports/frist. just $25 million below the existing limit. 41 U. Secretary of the U.Res.400 billion limit. On October 14. available at http://www. in September 2004. in the House triggered the “Gephardt rule” (House Rule XXVII) that deems to have passed legislation (in this case. it did not reach final agreement with the Senate on the measure. debt subject to limit reached $7. Secretary of the Treasury John Snow informed Congress. the Treasury asked Congress to raise the debt limit in order to avoid the disruptions to government finances experienced in the previous two years. The Treasury employed methods used in the previous two years to keep debt under the legal limit. October 14. January 2004. Without that flexibility. Snow. The Debt Limit Issue in 2004 In January 2004. 5025) in an effort to remove the Treasury’s flexibility in financing the government as federal debt approached and reached the existing limit.S. See CRS Report 98-453. 42 Alan Fram. This raised cash needed to pay for ongoing obligations and kept the debt below the limit.treas. would be reached the following summer. Consequently.383.Con. 43 John W. “Congress May Duck Debt Limit Raise. the House had added an amendment to the FY2005 TransportationTreasury appropriations (H. no measure was available to send to the Senate. The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2005 to 2014.S.” Oakland Tribune.41 In June 2004. no legislation was moved to raise the debt limit.42 In August. and again in September.R.384 billion (P. On that day.S. debt subject to limit was $25 million (or 0. letter to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. after rejecting eight amendments and sent it to the President. then set at $7. 2003. This legislation raised the debt limit to $7.Res. by Bill Heniff Jr. H. Debt-Limit Legislation in the Congressional Budget Process. H. just before the election recess. 40 The House Budget Committee has some discretion in setting the debt limit level in the House Joint resolution generated by the Gephardt rule. Congress.pdf. that available measures to avoid breaching the debt limit would be exhausted by mid-November.
L. 109-182) to $8. The President signed the legislation into law (P. 44 Congressional Research Service 12 . 47.965 billion.org/files/budget/pdf/snow_debtlimit_2006. John W. letter to Senator Max Baucus. April 28. 2006. 2004. Senator Frist. Estimates made at that time anticipated the new limit would be reached between August and December 2005. 47. Snow. Secretary Snow authorized actions used previously by the Treasury.965 billion. The instructions specified a $781 billion debt limit increase. available at http://www. 2986) to raise the debt limit by $800 billion. 118 Stat. and 2007 Debt limit increases in 2005. The adoption of the conference report on the FY2006 budget resolution in late April 2005 also triggered the Gephardt rule (House Rule XXVII).The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases the government would be unable to meet its financial obligations as the amount of debt neared the limit. and 2007 took a less dramatic path than those in President Bush’s first term. The legislation cleared the House. After the elections. the third of which directed the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee to report bills raising the debt limit. 108-415. the Senate had not considered H. producing a House Joint Resolution (H. Secretary of the Treasury Snow wrote Congress that the debt limit would probably be reached in mid-February 2006. December 29. The increase in the debt limit in mid-November allowed the Treasury to reschedule the debt auction and cancel. the government was again close to becoming unable to meet its obligations. During the week of March 13 the Senate took up H. on November 16.Res. Through the end of the first session of the 109th Congress. 2004. As March began.Con.ombwatch.Res. 2005. Secretary Snow advised Congress that the Treasury was taking measures within its legal discretion to avoid reaching the limit and that these measures would suffice only until the middle of March 2006.J. introduced legislation (S. nor had Congress considered a reconciliation bill raising the debt limit as called for in the budget resolution. but the Senate did not act on it. 2006. with a reporting date of no later than September 30. He therefore requested an increase in the debt limit. 2004. the “debt limit suspension period. 2005). Secretary of the Treasury. Under the rule. Shortly before the increase in the debt limit. 2005.Res.pdf. 95. In 2005. the resolution was automatically deemed passed by the House and sent to the Senate. from $7.44 In two more letters. Neither committee reported a bill to raise the debt limit. including declaring a debt issuance suspension period.L. before it began.965 billion. 47) that also would raise the debt limit by $781 billion to $8. The President’s signature on March 20. At the end of December 2005.J. although the Treasury could take actions that maintain the debt below its limit until mid-March. the Senate passed a debt limit increase after rejecting several amendments.” The Debt Limit Issue in 2005. Congress included three reconciliation instructions in the FY2006 budget resolution (H. the Treasury delayed a debt auction and informed Congress that it would invoke a “debt limit suspension period” as it had in previous years.184 billion. 2006. sent on February 19 and March 6. to $8. On March 16. 2337) on November 19.J. 109th Congress. The Senate approved the increase on November 17. then raised the debt limit (P. The House considered and approved the increase on November 18.Res.384 billion to $8.
the CBO Director said that projections suggested that the limit would be reached in late October or early November. Boosting the economy through deficit spending provides a fiscal stimulus if the output levels of goods and services produced in the nation are below their potential levels. While deficits for FY2010 were slightly lower and fiscal conditions are projected to improve in FY2011.J. indicating an increasing reluctance of major financial institutions to lend to each other as well as to firms and individuals. falling prices of many assets and equities can sharply reduce federal revenues from capital gains taxes and from the corporate tax. In August.Rept. available at http://www. energy.S. however. Third. Without an increase. with higher than average deficits as a percentage of GDP persisting into the next decade. The House’s Gephardt rule.org/cycles/sept2010. Second. the largest component of federal revenues. 110-91). 2007 (P. thus increasing federal spending. First. This led to sharply higher federal deficit spending in FY2008 spurred by several major actions taken by Congress to unfreeze credit markets. 110-153) on the FY2008 budget resolution. resulted in the automatic engrossment of a joint resolution (in this case.Res. and in addition. and sending it to the Senate.45 The economic slowdown began with a rapid deceleration of housing prices and a rise in interest rate spreads between private lending rates and benchmark Federal Reserve rates. 2010. The Economic Slowdown and Federal Debt Fiscal Policy Considerations The U. H. stating the limit would be reached in early October 2007. the Treasury asked Congress to raise the debt limit. press release. Deficit spending. 110th Congress) raising the debt limit by $850 billion to $9. could accelerate due to rising prices of food. triggered by the adoption of the conference report on the budget resolution.Res. The Senate then passed the measure on September 27. exacerbates long-term fiscal challenges. which the President signed on September 29. 43. and primary commodities. which had been relatively low since the early 1980s. Congressional Research Service 13 .The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases In mid-May 2007. boost consumption. Economic recession affects the federal deficit in several ways. may also fall if jobs are cut and unemployment increases due to economic conditions. Congress passed the conference report (H. The Senate Finance Committee approved the House resolution (H. likely leading to further increases in the federal debt and debt limit.J. and increase spending. economy is currently recovering slowly from a severe economic recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.L. not when it has recovered. 43) without changes on September 12. it would require Treasury to pay higher nominal interest rates on federal 45 The end of a recession is said to occur when an economy has stopped shrinking. At the end of July 2007. can help accelerate inflation if output levels are near or at potential levels. individual income taxes. 2007. Several economists have expressed concerns that inflation. the Treasury indicated that it would take steps within its legal authority to avoid exceeding the debt limit. September 20.nber. While inflation would reduce the market value of the federal deficit. See National Bureau of Economic Research Business Cycle Dating Committee.html. “automatic stabilizers” such as unemployment insurance and income support programs pay out more money as unemployment rises and the number of households eligible for means-tested benefits rises. deficits remain high relative to historical experience. Deficit spending was even higher in FY2009.815 billion.
312) recommended policies that would result in a $10. The U. Congress. p.cbo. increasing the debt limit. 99. The conference agreement (H.207 billion in FY2009. The budget conference report passed the Senate on a 48-45 vote on June 4. Con. available at http://www.gov/doc.49 Because debt subject to limit was just $339 billion less than the debt ceiling of $9. is currently operating well below its potential.cbo. 2008..Con. Congress. 2008. Report to Accompany S.S.615 billion on July 23. March 2008. available at http://www. CBO estimated the President’s budget would lead to a $396 billion deficit in FY2008 and a $342 billion deficit in FY2009. the act also contained provisions that would temporarily authorize the Secretary of Treasury to extend a line of credit to mortgage guarantee agencies Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.Res. 92.278 billion in FY2009. Senate Committee on the Budget. 92) that would increase the debt limit from its current level of $9.Res.S. Congressional Budget Office.” March 25.Res. The House passed the measure on the next day by a 214-210 vote. In August 2009. 70) recommended policies that would result in a total debt of $10. Congressional Budget Office.1. July 24.Rept. 3221 “Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008” As passed by the Senate on July 11.S.Rept. The Senate then passed the measure on July 26 on a 72-13 vote. Res.S. 2009.L.Res. 110-543. 2008. 2008.S.. The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update. 49 U. 3221) by a vote of 272-152 that included a debt limit increase to $10. Table 1.615 billion.47 As a result of the current economic conditions and the actions of the federal government to bring the economy out of recession. Congress.46 The actual deficit for FY2008 reached $455 billion.48 Implementing either set of policies would require an increase in the federal debt limit. Report to Accompany H. and 2010 In a March 2008 report. available at http://www.815 billion to $10. which has kept inflation at lower levels. 110-289).381 billion in FY2010. it also estimated a 5% chance of a cost to taxpayers of more than $100 billion. Congressional Budget Office. H.pdf.pdf. economy. Subsequently. the federal debt limit was raised twice in the second half of 2008 and twice in 2009.R. 48 Congressional Research Service 14 .S. 47 Goldman Sachs U.cbo. Because the Senate did not take up H. the House passed an amended version of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (H.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases debt. the debt limit remained at $9. U. Raising the Debt Ceiling in 2008. The Senate Concurrent Resolution on the Budget S. which replaced the Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) and the Federal Housing Finance Board (FHFB). Congress.200 billion debt in FY2009. August 2009. 70. Agreement on the FY2009 budget resolution automatically created and deemed passed in the House legislation (H. 2008.R. U. 46 U. March 2008. Research. “US Daily: The Fiscal 2008 Deficit—Likely to Top $500 Billion.Prt.S.J. House Committee on the Budget. The President signed the bill on July 30 (P. however.J.cfm?index=10521.gov/ftpdocs/89xx/doc8990/03-19-AnalPresBudget. 2008.Con. While CBO indicated that it was more likely than not that such intervention would not be needed. In addition to increasing the debt limit. with an amendment transmitted to CBO on July 22. 312. CBO estimated the deficit would total $1. 110-659) also recommended spending levels that would lead to a debt subject to limit of $10. The act also created the a new independent agency called the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Res.815 billion.587 billion in FY2009 and $1. Congress. Table 1-1. 2nd sess. The House Concurrent Resolution on the Budget (H. 110-039.815 billion when the Senate 46 U. 110th Cong. An Analysis of the President’s Budgetary Proposals for Fiscal Year 2009. March 2008. a level that would require an increase in the statutory debt limit.gov/ftpdocs/95xx/doc9597/hr3221. S. Cost Estimate for H.
52 U. This measure contains both tax cuts and spending increases. On October 1. the U. the resolution was automatically deemed passed by the House and sent to the Senate. 1424). Since the deprivatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.pdf. Congress. 350).Res. 2008. 53 U.R. the federal government has acted to provide stability to financial markets.Res. and passed. producing a House Joint Resolution (H. Marc Labonte. and signed by the President on February 17.J. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) as passed by the Senate on February 10. might have hindered the Treasury Secretary’s ability to intervene to support Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. 2009. House Financial Services Committee. Department of Treasury. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H. This measure contained a provision increasing the debt limit to $12. The budget resolution also contained a revised estimate of debt subject to limit of $12.R. the Senate voted on. 51 U. For additional information see CRS Report RS22956. 1 and S. On September 7. 1424) that included the same debt limit increase.S. Congress. however. triggered the Gephardt rule (House Rule XXVII).50 On September 20.” Press release hp-1150. and Urban Affairs Committee. Senate Banking. available at http://banking.104 billion. Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (In the Nature of a Substitute to H. Housing. The adoption of this conference report on April 29.51 The House introduced the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H. the House rejected this measure. Current economic conditions led Congress to consider another economic stimulus measure. 3997).htm. 110-343) on the same day. 111-5). The Cost of Government Financial Interventions.pdf. The final conference agreement on ARRA was passed by the House and Senate on February 13. providing FHFA with the full powers to control the assets and operations of the firms.S. 2008. Sept.315 billion.senate.R.S. the FHFA placed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in conservatorship. 45) that would raise the debt limit by $925 billion to $13. and N. which will increase the deficit by reducing revenues and increasing outlays.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases passed H.029 billion. 3221. Treasury submitted a proposal to Congress to authorize the Treasury Secretary to buy mortgage-related assets in order to stabilize financial markets.R. and it was signed into law by the President (P. 2009 (P. which incorporated the main tenets of the Treasury proposal including raising the debt limit to $11.315 billion.S.315 billion.233 billion in FY2010. 1424 on October 3.gov/apps/list/press/financialsvcs_dem/ amend_001_xml. Eric Weiss. 2008. Past and Present. “Fact Sheet: Proposed Treasury Authority to Purchase Troubled Assets. 2008. 13) recommended policies that would lead to a debt subject to limit of $13. The version of this legislation originally passed by the House omitted this provision.53 The House passed H.R.R.016 billion for FY2009. 50 Congressional Research Service 15 .Con.gov/public/_files/ latestversionAYO08C32_xml.140 billion. a level that would require an increase in the statutory debt limit. without an increase. 3997).L. 20. 2009. raising the debt limit to $11.gov/press/releases/hp1150. by Baird Webel.house.R.52 On September 29. some financial market participants may have worried that the debt limit. Under the rule. 2008.treas. 2009 (Division B of the Senate Substitute amendment to H. available at http://www.L. available at http://www. 2008. The Treasury proposal would allow Treasury holdings of mortgagerelated securities up to $700 billion and would raise the debt limit to $11. The conference report on the Concurrent Resolution on the Budget for FY2010 (S. contained a provision which would raise the debt limit to $12. a different version of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.
R.58 In mid-December.S.394 billion.Amdt. provides certain protections to the Social Security program.J. and passed by the House the next day on a 218-214 vote. approved on a 97-0 vote. September 28.” Economic Trends. such as those taken in 2003 during a “debt issuance suspension period” (described above).gov/press/releases/tg346. could also have extended the U. 56 For details.” Washington Post. 3305.” September 7. A10. “Fall 2009 Outlook: Debt Limit Increase. A4. 61 S.54 On November 4. Treasury announced that it could postpone the time when federal debt would reach its statutory limit until the middle or the end of December. the U. “House Democrats Discard Larger Debt Limit. p. November 4.Res. On the other hand. Treasury was scheduled to issue $48 billion of nonmarketable securities to the FDIC on December 30 and to make interest payments to various federal trust funds on December 31 totaling about $100 billion.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases In August 2009. the Obama Administration also contemplated scaling back the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). see Joseph Haubrich and John Lindner. 2009. 2009. the Senate passed an amended version of H. 3299) to H. 2009. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner notified Congress that the debt limit would be reached in mid-October. senior Members of the House chose to forgo a larger increase in the debt limit in favor of a smaller increase in the debt limit that would allow the U.S. U. November 26. and the President signed the measure on December 28. On January 28. Repayments of TARP funds by major financial institutions could also lower the amount of debt subject to limit.294 billion. “White House Weighs New Panel to Tackle Deficit: Bipartisan Commission Considered As Administration Seeks to Show Resolve on a Problem that Dogs Its Broader Agenda. McKinnon. 45 that would have established a “Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action” was not approved on a 53-46 vote. 45 on a 60-39 vote. according to Wall Street analysts. which in the absence of a debt limit increase. 2009. 2009. on January 26. according to media reports. 58 The Money Market Observer: Wrightson ICAP’s Weekly Newsletter.S. 4314.Amdt. 60 CQ Today Midday Update.cfm. Treasury Department to continue normal debt management operations for two months or so.56 According to media reports.Res. could have challenged Treasury’s debt management activities in the absence of special accounting measures. December 15. an emergency loan program created in the days following Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy. 1966. Other amendments were not approved. having failed to reach 60 votes. http://www. Federal Reserve of Chicago. Treasury’s ability to operate within the debt limit.Amdt.” CQ Today Online News. 2010. Treasury. from $200 billion to $15 billion.clevelandfed.S. the U. 3302 to S. which could be enabled through a measure linked to an increase in the debt limit.org/research/trends/2009/1009/ 03monpol. “November 2009 Quarterly Refunding Statement. The Senate passed it on December 24 by a 60-39 vote. The measure would raise the debt ceiling by $1.htm. “The Supplemental Financing Program. 2009.” press release tg346. 3300). one amendment to impose certain pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) restrictions was approved on a 60-40 vote.62 An amendment (S. David Clarke and CQ Staff. 2009.J. p. to $14.60 In addition.Amdt.S. November 30. November 4.” Wall Street Journal. a measure to raise the debt limit to $12. which extended the time until the debt limit would be reached.900 billion. 62 Jonathan Weisman and John D. 57 The Money Market Observer: Wrightson ICAP’s Weekly Newsletter. “Senate Sends Debt Ceiling Increase to House. was introduced on December 15.57 Other measures. 2009. 2010. 59 Paul Kane. “Treasury Gives Congress More Breathing Room on Debt Limit. A second amendment (S. which could also lower federal debt subject to statutory limit. Congressional Research Service 16 .59 H. 55 Treasury dropped nearly $185 billion from its balance sheet by reducing the amount of loans available through the Supplemental Financing Program.” January 28. December 7.61 Some Members of Congress have called for the creation of a national commission to address federal debt and the government’s fiscal situation. 2009. available at http://www.ustreas. p. according to media reports. President 54 55 CQ Weekly.
20. Office of Management and Budget. 64 National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. 2010. 1997 June 28. December 1.J. 2004 Mar. February 23.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases Obama then charged a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Fiscal Commission) with identifying “policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.184 8. 104-121 P.615 11. which is available from the authors upon request. 2002 May 27. 2010.L.815 10.S.L. 104-103 P.gov/sites/fiscalcommission.Res.”63 The Fiscal Commission issued a report on December 1.” February 18.pdf.500 5.384 8. 111-139) on February 12. 3. 1996 August 5. 108-24 P. 110-289 P.L.900 (b) ( c) 5. by Philip D.L. 45—Increasing the Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.64 The House approved H.” Statement Of Administration Policy.) Number P. 111-139 New Debt Limit ($ billion) $4. 2007 July 30.900 Date April 6.L. 104-115 P. 63 Congressional Research Service 17 . 2008 Oct. OMB. report. 110-91 P. 19.L.950 6. January 20.965 9.L.394 14. 103-12 P. 45 on a 233-187 vote on February 4.L.whitehouse. Executive Order 13531.L.66 Table 2. 105-33 P. forwarding the measure to the President. The Moment of Truth. available at http://www.gov/files/documents/ TheMomentofTruth12_1_2010.L.294 Change From Previous Limit ($ billion) $225 530 — — 600d 450 450 984 800 781 850 800 700 789 290 1.gov. “National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. 2010.L. 29. 107-199 P.L. compiled using the Legislative Information System. Table 2 summarizes the increases in the debt limit since 1993.L.pdf. Increases in the Debt Limit Since 1993 Public Law (P. see CRS Report 98-805 E. 110-343 P. 109-182 P. 111-123 P. 1993 August 10. 66 For a discussion of earlier debt limit increases. Winters.gov/omb/assets/sap_111/ saphjr45s_20100120. 111-5 P. Public Debt Limit Legislation: A Brief History and Controversies In the 1980s and 1990s. “H. 2003 Nov.L. 1996 March 29. 2010.L. available at http://www. 17. 75 FR 7927.104 12. 2006 Sept. 103-33 P. 2010.65 The President signed the measure (P. The Obama Administration had previously voiced its strong support for a debt limit increase. 1996 March 12. 2009 Dec. 28.315 12.L.fiscalcommission.L. and several commissioners issued their own fiscal proposals as well.J. 1993 February 8.congress. 65 U.Res. 2009 February 12. 2008 Feb.370a 4.400 7. 2010 Source: CRS. 108-415 P. available at http://www.L. 2010.
Running Deficits: Positives and Pitfalls. See CRS Report RL33657.ssa. such as trust funds. available at http://www. and the beginning of FY2002 in October 2001.cfm?index=11705.html. 67 Congressional Research Service 18 . 69 Report of the National Commission on Social Security Reform. available at http://www. c. Difference from debt limit set on August 10.68 The accumulation of Social Security and other trust funds. January 1983.gov/ history/reports/gspan. when the debt limit was raised to $5. debt held by the public subject to limit grew by $2.950 billion. 1996. The Budget and Economic Outlook: An Update. From the end of FY2001. Temporarily exempted from limit (a) obligations in an amount equal to the monthly insurance benefits payable under Title II of the Social Security Act in March 1996 and (b) certain obligations issued to trust funds and other Federal Government accounts. although large deficits may harm economic performance.743 billion since the beginning of FY2002.484 billion. U. and that the federal government would continue to run large deficits. August 19. Temporarily exempted from limit obligations in an amount equal to the monthly insurance benefits payable under Title II of the Social Security Act in March 1996.69 The growth in federal debt held by the public and in intergovernmental accounts.gov/doc. Between August 1997. 1. Federal debt held in intergovernmental accounts grew steadily throughout the period. CBO warns that the current trajectory of federal borrowing is unsustainable and could lead to slower economic growth in the long run as debt rises as a percentage of GDP. 1996. the federal government increased its borrowing from the public in all years. p. many budget experts remain concerned that a slow economic recovery or a “double-dip” recession could keep federal revenues below previous trendline projections for several years. federal budget surpluses reduced debt held by the public. d. until the end of FY2008. led to sustained growth in government-held debt subject to limit. has periodically obliged Congress to raise the debt limit.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases a.S. 1993.413 billion in FY2009.cbo. Concluding Comments Since the late 1950s. 1983. Increased the debt limit temporarily through September 30. rising by $1.342 billion in FY2010. Nonetheless. by D. except in FY1969 following imposition of a war surcharge and in the period FY1997-FY2001. Andrew Austin. as well as to federal responses. the exemption to expire on the earlier of an increase in the limit or March 15. and is estimated to reach $1.67 Much of the increase in deficits can be attributed to weak economic and financial market turmoil that started in late 2007. particularly after 1983 when recommendations of the Greenspan Commission were implemented. 68 The ability to run fiscal deficits gives the federal government useful flexibility in managing its finances. Congressional Budget Office. The total federal deficit rose from $455 billion in FY2008 to $1. The persistence of federal budget deficits has required the government to issue more and more debt to the public. Deficit Estimates The size of the debt may remain a concern in the future due to the size of impending federal deficits necessitating further increases in the debt limit. both exemptions to expire on the earlier of an increase in the limit or March 30. 2010. the last fiscal year with a surplus. b.
2009 (P. 3221) that included a debt limit increase to $10. The House passed an amended version of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (H.. 2001. and the President signed it on July 30. Congress. President Obama signed this measure on February 17. 111-5). that provided enough room for the growing federal debt through the fall of 2004. January 25. largely due to the difference between Social Security tax revenues and benefit payments. Congress adopted a debt limit increase of $934 billion on May 23. the Senate passed the House-initiated debt limit increase. 2006.J. The debt limit increase passed by Congress late in 2004 was expected. On March 16.htm. 2008.L. The Senate passed the measure on July 26. Outlook for the Federal Budget and Implications for Fiscal Policy. the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (H.S. New budget projections released in early 2002 smashed expectations of large. according to some observers. raised the debt limit for the second time in 2008 to $11. and early in 2006. in U. Senate Committee on the Budget. 70 Testimony of Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.federalreserve.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases In early 2001. 2003. The moderate growth in total debt those projections had forecast was expected to postpone the need to increase the debt limit until late into the decade. which raised the debt limit to $12. 1st sess. The House passed legislation in May 2007 (H. the FY2003 deficit and the persistent rise in debt held by government accounts drove the federal debt up to the $6. Smaller than expected deficits in FY2006 and FY2007 postponed. however. Early in 2003. 110-91) on September 27. hearings. to accommodate the government’s debt growth well into 2005. higher debt limit. 107th Cong. at the time.L. The debt limit crisis was resolved when the President signed the debt limit increase on March 20.gov/boarddocs/testimony/2001/20010125/default. thus bringing forward the projected date when the federal debt will reach its current limit. and hopes for reductions in debt held by the public collapsed. The Senate passed the measure (P.R.R. The debt limit was raised for the third time in less than a year as a result of passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. the 10-year budget forecasts projected large and growing surpluses. available at http://www. indicating rapid reduction in debt held by the public.104 billion. persistent surpluses. raising the debt limit to $8. showed large deficits emerging once the baby boomers began to retire.. The Treasury avoided breaching the limit into May. The return to large federal deficits accelerated the growth of total debt.615 billion on July 23. Some experts expressed concern about consequences of retiring all federal debt held by the public. if not into early 2006.400 billion limit in effect at the time. Short-term forecasts projected continuous growth in debt held by government accounts. the Treasury informed Congress that the limit would be reached between midFebruary and mid-March 2006. The 2008 economic slowdown. Turmoil in some financial markets in August 2007. 110-343). Congressional Research Service 19 . The combination of falling levels of publicly held debt and rising levels of debt held by government accounts moderated the expected growth of total debt.965 billion. signed into law on October 3 (P. In late December 2005.Res. but did not end the need for a new. which the President signed on September 29.315 billion.L. appeared to constrain contention over the debt limit increase. 43) to raise the debt limit.70 Most long-term forecasts computed at that time. Subsequently. 1424). raising the debt limit for the first time in 2008. caused federal deficit spending to rise. Increases in the debt limit would be necessary much sooner than previously expected. when accumulating debt in government accounts would overtake reductions in debt held by the public. which reduced federal tax revenues and increased federal outlays.
4314. see CRS Report R41005. by Robert Keith.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases The debt limit was again raised in late 2009. pp. and the History of What We Owe. Another amendment. Robert D. Unless federal policies change..294 billion. 2005. The Price of Liberty: Paying for America’s Wars from the Revolution to the War on Terror. 42.. Anita S. raising the debt ceiling by $1. which was not approved. New York: McGraw-Hill. Congress would repeatedly face demands to raise the debt limit to accommodate the growing federal debt in order to provide the government with the means to meet its financial obligations. “In Defense of the Debt Limit Statute. persistent and possibly growing deficits. In early 2010.net/encyclopedia/article/noll. edited by Robert Whaples. 2007. Amendments offered during consideration of the latest debt limit increase may signal a growing concern with the fiscal sustainability.71 Over the next decade. President Obama signed the measure on February 12. One amendment. along with the ongoing growth in the debt holdings of government accounts. Noll. which was approved. passed by the House on December 16.publicdebt. “The United States Public Debt. Hamilton’s Blessing: the Extraordinary Life and Times of Our National Debt. May 26. 1998. 2008. 71 Congressional Research Service 20 . and by the Senate on December 24.R. would have established a statutory commission to consider long-term fiscal issues. Jefferson. This debt limit.394 billion when the President signed the measure on December 28. H. Further Reading Drishnakumar.Net Encyclopedia. Wright. will allow the Treasury Department to issue new debt at projected levels until spring 2011. Gordon. The Statutory PAYGO Process for Budget Enforcement: 1991-2002. 1861 to 1975. New York: Penguin.900 billion. 2010. would increase substantially the amount of federal debt subject to limit.” Harvard Journal on Legislation. Congress voted for a larger increase in the debt limit. New York: Times Books. 2009.” EH. Franklin. Available at http://eh. vol. For a discussion of PAYGO in the past. Hormats. John Steele. raised the debt limit to $12. One Nation Under Debt: Hamilton.. Robert E. 135-185. which would put the limit at $14. according to projections. without major changes in federal policies. would impose certain PAYGO restrictions. 2004.
340.677.436.659 End of Month Sept.231. All three measures of debt subject to limit increased over this period.034 23.602.108 5.521 67.625 3. 2002 Feb.802 5. in current dollars.600 44.412 6.816 5.659 Change from Previous Period — $-3. 2003 Feb.427.644.359.294.553. subject to the debt limit.050 6.745.404. 2001 Oct.285 63.517.572 54.413 5.318 2.494 2. 2003 Total $5.743 2. Because federal receipts and outlays are spread unevenly over the fiscal year.262 1. Table A-1.975 6.130 -41.568 -24 64.753.692 3.438 2.365. 2001 Jan.871.549.338 33.709 3.785 18.823 5.789 3.932 -3.247 31.347.350 2.812 2.521.946 2.401 3.294 17.355.163 Congressional Research Service 21 .935. The table shows outstanding monthly balances.954 -20.399.722.812 Change from Previous Period — $15.163 0 Held by Government Accounts $2. 2002 Nov. and debt held by the public increased by $5. 2001 Dec. Debt Subject to Limit by Month.853 63.737 50.263 64.092.933.975 6. debt held in government accounts increased by $2.514 -2.625 3.073 billion.142.403 57.647 2.431 6.912 77.042 36.815 2. 2002 Apr.999 7.399.721 72.649.292 35.832 46.298 36.630. debt held by government accounts.521 2.406. 2002 Jan.281 3.516.788 2.528.914.980 2.396.120 3.313 6.993 27.521 2.176 3.596 69.114 46. 2002 Dec.680.244 2.750.705 billion.659 3.667 3.525.812 6.613.755 2.187 3.012 2.835 6.301 2.296 -2.739 -176 21. even if debt measures follow an overall increasing trend. and debt held by the public. 2002 Sept.296.161.620.159 108.590 -5.892 5.703 33.355.680.975 Held by the Public $3.411 31. All three measures experienced periodic reductions in some months.365 9.627.467 8.830 -27.504 3.949. 2002 Oct.464.225 -15.550. debt may rise or fall in a given month.471 2.528.472 3. 2001 Nov. 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 Aug.220 -67 -11. 2002 Mar. From the end of September 2001 (the end of FY2001) to the end of September 2010 (the most recently completed fiscal year).744.196 64. 2003 Mar.300 54.154 5. September 2001-December 2010 (in millions of current dollars) Change from Previous Period — $11.890 3.469.787 2.480 6.058.378 3.816. Debt Subject to Limit by Month Since September 2001 Table A-1 provides data on the dollar amount.284 6.778 billion.451.138 3.292.666 -7.646 2.511 3.613. of total federal debt.523 5. of federal debt and the changes in these amounts by month between the end of September 2001 (the end of FY2001) and the end of December 2010.070 3.820 -4. total federal debt increased by $7.865.732.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases Appendix.
396 3.317 -946 9.704. 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 Aug.625.000.957.835.940.742.497.826 4.717.232 3.229.464.893 6.203 27.183.777 -11. 2004 Oct.268.952.971 16.797 42.501 79.024 62.829. 2003 Oct.510.271.535. 2005 Oct.590 3.089 3.449 8.731.658 6.333.765 70.933 4.904 48.842.566 2.869.407 51.914 3.814 6.189.052 61.730 2.485 1.760 4.726 7.904 32.395 86.795 -6.895 2.171.591 3.179 17.725 3.533 60.032 36.115 52.685 Held by Government Accounts 2.869. 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 Aug. 2005 Apr.090 33.626 6. 2005 Jan.177.869 3.617 -8.570.211 18.681 48. 2003 Jan.214 4. 2004 Apr.149 3.975 Change from Previous Period 0 98.237.503 7.239 14.941.015.619 10.705 63.826.361 2.726.409 Change from Previous Period 8.364 3.089.378 11.376.851 7.648 3.290 8.008 34.189 5.101 25.879.975 6.012.056.128 7.395 7.122 58.953.987 3.476.230 73.975 7. 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 Aug.019 8.782 8.823 3.158 3.702 7.383.736 2.413 -17.969 3.388 3.700 7.740 7.141 -23.453 4.677 4.964.136 78.644 7.565 66.118 -6.518.107.442.219 2.753 19.583.128 53.558 5.300.699 4.395 -13.574 7.147.682. 2005 Mar.312 39.132.519 6.207.345.620 5.906 4.366 2.280.117 2.334 4.868. 2005 Sept.722 -21.089 45.553 6.829.715 4.373 70.904 21.334 11.158.088.763 3.653 4.958 82.029 7.531 7.424.747 4.466 -6.677. 2005 Feb.567 Change from Previous Period -8.523 7.222 89.483 1.879.040 4.271 51.114 4.151 2.460 3.096.966.352 43.396.305. 2005 Nov. 2005 Dec.320 4.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases End of Month Apr. 2003 Nov.889 7. 2004 Dec.871.039.096.868 73.554 50.087.628 49.207 3.049.973.267 13.365 -8.901 39.278. 2004 Sept.163 7.543 3.406 3.783.040 7.820 Congressional Research Service 22 . 2006 Feb.342 4.846.775 6.918 8.718 66.320 7.335 -13.008 89.830 40.956 13.504 73. 2003 Dec.589 3.652.619.834 3.624 61.093 3.599 30.129.175 4.540.696 3.273 44.933 3.951.399.960.287.457.176.441 39.509 4.476 80.853 86.958 73.195 2.715.704.462 13.185.755. 2004 Jan.531 3.058 85.042 2.230 24.071 4.104 11.328 7.493 2.295 38.823 77.284.633 4.819 50. 2006 Total 6.615 4.668 6.151.890.498.382 4. 2004 Feb.042 4.866 Held by the Public 3. 2003 Sept.028.778.041 7.648 7.914.377.351.350 7.763 9.682 -2.683 126.743.037.742 64.343 22. 2004 Mar.157 4.697 12.737.645 93.033.928 18.193 4.276. 2004 Nov.689.175.904 -11.633 4.961 -6.668.123 2.625 80.861 79.387 2.549 4.138 208 19.304 3.550.768 4.247 3.304 4.567.
892 8.076 2.405 -4.852 91. 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 Aug.258.901 9.616 46.348 4.630 -25.298.299 3.135 9.188 78.793 -26. 2008 Jan.231.622.358 5.201 3.464 32.574 4.102.887 4.127 119.737.736 3.021 13.895.735 8.569.868.091 -18.241 3.964 50.149 5.812 8.155 4.780.545.824 6.144 5.290.850 10.592.676 5.460 4.979 4.618 5.753.375.357 3.566.950 -25.063 4.903.886 Change from Previous Period 111.239 3.847.705 18.649.420.779.972.678 29.098 14.275.807 36.036.771. 2007 Apr.718 8.422 69.424 Change from Previous Period -13. 2007 Feb.508 9.296 71.217.377 5. 2006 Apr.895 134.482 4.454 6.622 5.343 8.605 4.680 5. 2006 Jan.199 4.115.863 -505 74. 2008 Mar.548 94. 2006 Dec.986 -45.513 8.252 329.783.255 3.137 9.064 4.783.183 18.744 18.648 3.542 65.220 9.230.476 -18.733 1.843 5.683 9. 2007 Oct.032 75.633 5.691 4.377 4.178 5.567 9.321 8.342 544.906 Congressional Research Service 23 . 2007 Jan. 2006 Oct.690.959.129. 2008 Sept.699 46.451 8.911.958.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases End of Month Mar.413 4.444 6.064.738 47.815 4.450 5.070 8.744.298.841 82.181 492.276 66.792.845.792 6.894 3.427.272.304 -3.452 -59.849 4.053.094 66.604 64.017.020.077 -9.847.834 21.774 -88.179. 2008 Nov.623 3.798 26.830 92.814 -7.367.921.124 49.025 73.828.867.045.443.417 8.725 10.209 -3.648 79.878 4.740.662 -50.921 8.918.803 48.038.608 4.420 -19.288 379.095 5.364 6.650.538 3.270 4.644 5.249 73.319 60.493 8.707 -3.992 4. 2006 Sept.479.715 8.702 10.685 4.964 Held by Government Accounts 3.023 44.595 54.128 13.282 -54.580.888 11.881.358.204 -27.968 70.106.306.602 3.498.619.946 75.505 128.889 88.378 3.007 4.850 73.819 3.343 60.665 -12.178 38.827 9.192 6.051.352.920 117.754 -11.212 27.569.715 9.549 -70. 2007 Nov.071. 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 Aug. 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 Aug.043 77.172 38.550 3.647 -7.169.132 -14.640.994.499 8.608 70. 2008 Dec.144.161 52.166 3. 2008 Apr.504.775 4.468 4.710 3.837.212 -20.228.451 75.281.168 8.639 9.950.065.263.873.144.278.724.646 8.278 8. 2007 Dec.451.633 -8.948.392 5.155.778. 2007 Sept. 2009 Total 8.972 4. 2008 Oct.310 Change from Previous Period 97.842 9.595.281 5.974.509 4. 2006 Nov.080.520.165 4.058 Held by the Public 4.324.330.450 3.614 8.986 71.095 4. 2007 Mar.186 3.740.492.764.017 73.570 167.916 13.568 25.016 8.930 -6.566 4. 2008 Feb.714 13.202 -8.127 3.199 -46.423.115 3.252.770 34.854.262.276 6.274 10.341.124 -37.576.760.869 92.946.
716 4.336.905.001. 2010 Apr.568.990 225.gov.464.124 4. 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 Aug.493.708 144.662 39.728 31.418 4.005 4.412.027 98.294.487.372.434 11.876 88. 2010 Dec.972.905.loc.506 12.229 -16.737.325.511 12.814.497 191.373 4.376 9.596 -33.150. 7-7792 Congressional Research Service 24 .072 160.618 227.603.755.htm.442 9.217 11.690 -3.903 156.645 4.719 4.149.509.129 -20. 2009 Oct. Monthly Statement of the Public Debt.419 8.632 4.522 144.115 -11.763 224.485.794 13. Author Contact Information D.gov/govt/reports/pd/mspd/mspd. Treasury.888 Change from Previous Period -16.265.610 81.625 Change from Previous Period 262. Levit Analyst in Public Finance email@example.com 12. Andrew Austin Analyst in Economic Policy firstname.lastname@example.org 213.223 -16.428 7.344 8.992.725 7.396 4.788.005 7.895 4.183 16.loc. 2010 data computed from Daily Treasury Statement.120 4.629 12.900 Source: U. 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 Aug.499 48.311 7. 2010 Feb.994.689.946 6.480.260.218 99.205 11.539 13. 2010.537.048. Dec.498.234 205.716.892.769 95.185.844 8.510.734 4.750 30.339 353.832 47.344 19.494.827 11.222 177.050 97.560 13.611.513 Change from Previous Period 245.227 7.777 68.896 6. 2010 Nov. 2009 Sept.308 4.813 17. 2010 Total 10.398.502 4. 2010 Mar.448. Bureau of the Public Debt.822 6.504. 2009 Nov.208 9.999 161.210 332.469.853.805 220.717 12.840 13. 2010 Oct. 2009 Jan.673 4.222. 2009 Dec.725 9.809. available at http://www.954 -37. 2010 Sept.057.445 11.507 12.261.178 11.046 106.The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases End of Month Feb.178.gov.148 117.271 8.914.treasurydirect.466.673 4.143 -31.607 8.923 4.729 12.458 4.555.587 112.201 47.392 Held by Government Accounts 4.462 14.279 4.214 59.383.267.208 13.253.505 7.337 13.799 -51.272 4.184 -4.286 70.528.460.273. CRS calculations. 2001-Nov.025 123.492 Held by the Public 6.601 4.734 197.708 148. 7-6552 Mindy R.282 7.552.311.000 -4.321 7.320 251.586 112.935 4.617.107 98.784 163.733 -7.807.373 98.866 8.066.021 35.611.029 -63.405 82.797 7.299.254.258.680.470 11.121 13.368.810 157.367. Sept.263 -13.S. 2009 Apr.630 11.425 68.010 255.794 176.283 114. 2009 Mar.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.