January 12th, 2012
03:32 PM ET
President Obama formally asked Congress Thursday to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, stating the country’s debts have fallen within $100 billion of the current debt limit and an increase is needed to meet “existing commitments.”
The request came Thursday in a letter from the president to House Speaker John Boehner.
The latest request is the third asking to raise the debt limit since the contentious debt ceiling agreement last August. That agreement called for the ceiling to be increased in three stages, giving Congress the opportunity to express disapproval at each stage.
That deal, signed into law in August, authorized a phased increase of the debt ceiling by up to $2.4 trillion, with $400 billion of that kicking in immediately and another $500 billion coming in September. This latest request – for an additional $1.2 trillion – is the final stage of the agreement.
Congress has 15 days to pass a joint resolution denying the request for the increase, which President Obama can then veto.
In September, the Republican-controlled House passed a resolution against Obama's request to increase the debt limit, but the Senate did not.
In response to today’s request, Speaker Boehner’s spokesman Brendan Buck said, “Washington’s mounting debt is hurting our economic recovery, and this request is another reminder that the President has consistently punted on the tough choices needed to rein in the deficit and protect important programs for American seniors from going bankrupt.”
The new debt ceiling is expected to meet current financial commitments through the end of next year, according to the Treasury Department official.