President Obama formally notified lawmakers on Thursday that he is requesting an increase in the nation's debt limit, making his request official in a letter to Congress.
“I hereby certify that the debt subject to limit is within $100,000,000,000 of the limit in 31 U.S.C. 3101(b) and that further borrowing is required to meet existing commitments,” wrote President Obama.
His request came after delaying a formal notification a few weeks ago at the request of leaders in Congress, who had wished to have an opportunity for members to vote on the request.
Congress doesn’t have to do anything for the increase in the debt limit. The Budget Control Act, the law which settled last summer’s acrimonious debt ceiling debate, provided for this increase without congressional approval. However, the law states that when the president sends the letter requesting the authorization, opens a 15-day window in which both legislative bodies have a chance to vote on a resolution of disapproval that could block the request.
If both the House and Senate disapprove of the debt limit increase, then the country would not be allowed to borrow more money. This is unlikely to happen, but it gives the Republican-controlled House the opportunity to publicly register its disagreement with the increase. Most likely, the debt limit will be raised to $16.4 trillion on Jan. 27.
House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) office was quick to respond to the letter: “Washington’s mounting debt is a drag on our economic recovery, and this request is another reminder that the President has consistently punted on the tough choices needed to rein in the deficit and protect important programs for American seniors from going bankrupt.”
Currently, the country is already over its $15.2 trillion limit but the Treasury has taken steps to make sure the U.S. doesn’t default on its loans. The Treasury Department believes there will be no reason to raise the limit again until after the 2012 elections.