What Is the Debt Ceiling?

Jun 26, 2023

The debt ceiling, also known as the debt limit, is the maximum amount of money that the U.S. Treasury can borrow. Increasing the debt ceiling 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 the Congress.

Legislation enacted in June 2023 suspends the debt limit through January 1, 2025, allowing the government to continue spending on federal programs.

Why is understanding the debt ceiling 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 ceiling.

Download as PDF

What is the Debt Limit? What is the Debt Ceiling?

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

Feel free to share this infographic on Twitter.

Tweet: Policymakers have come together repeatedly over the years to avoid default by raising the #DebtLimit — no matter which party is in power.

Tweet: The #DebtLimit has been raised frequently in the past — 90 times since the beginning of 1959.

Expert Views: Fiscal Commission

We asked experts with diverse views from across the political spectrum to share their perspectives.

National Debt Clock

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