Almost all borrowing by the federal government is conducted by the Treasury Department, within the restrictions established by a single, statutory limit (ceiling) on the total amount of debt that may be outstanding at any time. By law, the Treasury cannot exceed federal debt limits, so the Treasury periodically has had to ask Congress to enact new debt limits so it can fulfill its financial commitments. Since 1978, the statutory federal debt limit has been changed 52 times by Congress through the enactment of legislation adjusting the federal debt limit, either as stand-alone legislation or as part of legislation dealing with other matters.
This report provides roll call vote data identified by the Congressional Research Service for measures to adjust the statutory debt limit.
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