Infographic: What Is the Debt Limit?

The debt limit, also known as the debt ceiling, is the maximum amount of money the U.S. Treasury can borrow. Increasing the debt limit allows the Treasury to borrow funds to pay for government obligations that have already been incurred as the result of laws and budgets approved by the President and Congress.

The debt limit was suspended from February 9, 2018 through March 1, 2019. On March 2, the limit was reset at $22.0 trillion, but the Treasury now has to draw down its cash balance or resort to “extraordinary measures” to continue borrowing to finance the deficit.

Why is understanding the debt limit important and what are the implications for our economy and our fiscal condition? The infographic below explains. For more details, see our analysis on the debt limit.

Download as PDF

What Is the Debt Limit?

Want to share this image on your site? Copy and paste the embed code below:

Mar 4, 2019

Understanding the Coronavirus Crisis

Key fiscal and economic indicators as the nation responds and recovers.

National Debt Clock

See the latest numbers and learn more about the causes of our high and rising debt.