Washington Democrats plan to allow the government’s debt to swell by nearly $2 trillion as part of a bill next week to pay for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The amount pretty much equals the total of a year-end spending spree by lawmakers and is big enough to ensure that Congress doesn’t have to vote again on going further into debt until after the 2010 elections.
The move has anxious moderate Democrats maneuvering to win new deficit-cutting tools as the price for their votes, igniting battles between the House and the Senate and with powerful interest groups on both the right and the left.
The record increase in the so-called debt limit — the legal cap on the amount of money the government can borrow — is likely to be in the neighborhood of $1.8 trillion to $1.9 trillion, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said Friday.
The government’s total debt has nearly doubled in the past seven years and is expected to exceed the current ceiling of $12.1 trillion before Jan. 1.