Obama Signs Debt Limit Increase

Posted December 28, 2009 at 4:17pm

President Barack Obama signed a bill Monday that boosts the statutory federal debt limit by $290 billion — enough to last only a few weeks. The legislation sets the debt limit at $12.39 trillion.Democrats had hoped to enact a much bigger increase, putting off the need to do so again for as long as possible, but Republicans refused, saying Democrats were trying to short-circuit meaningful debate on the issue. Bills to increase the statutory debt limit are typically a headache for the majority party, with the opposition using them as opportunities to do battle over fiscal policy. Republicans want more time to debate the issue, which they will get in January. Senate Republicans agreed not to obstruct a vote on the $290 billion debt limit increase — which cleared by a 60-39 vote on Dec. 24 — after striking a deal with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that will allow GOP Senators to offer a series of amendments next month to a longer-term debt bill. Those amendments include a rescissions package by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a set of spending caps proposed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), an amendment by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) sunsetting the Troubled Asset Relief Program, an amendment on the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of carbon dioxide emissions by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and a fiscal task force amendment by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.). Reid will also offer a pay-as-you-go budgeting amendment.