A Brief Look at the US Debt Ceiling Since 1940

Office of Management and Budget logoAccording to WhiteHouse.gov, there have been a total of 90 changes to the nation's statutory debt limit that have been enacted from 1940 until present day (if the Democrats and Republicans reach an agreement over the next few days, then that will be #91).

The first of these 90 changes was enacted on June 25th, 1940:

"54 Stat. 526
Amended sec. 21, adding new authority for issuance of $4 billion National Defense Series obligations outstanding
New Limit: $49.0 Billion"

The last of these 90 changes was enacted on February 12th, 2010:

"124 Stat. 8
Increased the debt limit to $14,294.0 Billion"

As mentioned, 90 statutes have been enacted between 1940 and 2011 that have involved the nation's statuary debt limit. The vast majority of these statutes raised the nation's debt ceiling.

Here is a breakdown of who was in power when these changes to the nation's debt limit were signed into law:

Republican President - 54 Changes
Democratic President - 36 Changes

Republican Senate Majority - 22 Changes
Democratic Senate Majority - 68 Changes

Republican House Majority - 8 Changes
Democratic House Majority - 82 Changes


Over the past 70+ years, the country has always increased the nation's debt ceiling when needed, from WWII to present day.

It still remains to be seen whether or not the debt ceiling will be raised over the next couple of days, or if the nation will default for the first time in its history.

Source: US Debt Ceiling History

Filed under: General Knowledge

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