Congress has established the maximum amount of debt the government can issue. Unless it is raised, this statutory debt limit of $14.294 trillion will soon be exceeded. At the end of October, debt subject to this limit was just $677 billion short of that figure. To avoid a government default, Congress will need to increase the limit.
That is likely to be controversial on Capitol Hill. However, it is essentially a decision to pay the bills already incurred. Policymakers should rise above partisan gamesmanship and increase the debt limit to avoid a damaging financial crisis. If Congress finds this vote embarrassing, it should enact more responsible fiscal policies before the limit needs to be raised again.