WASHINGTON (Dec. 24, 2009)—The U.S. Senate voted today to increase the ceiling on the U.S. debt from $12.104 trillion to $12.394 trillion. The 60-39 vote was mainly along party lines. One Democrat voted nay and one Republican voted aye. Both Democratic senators for Maryland, Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin, voted in favor of the increased debt ceiling.
The House bill (H.R. 4314) passed 218 (Democrat: 218; Republican: 0) to 214 (Democrat: 39; Republican: 175) on December 16. Southern Maryland's representative Steny Hoyer (D-5th) also voted in favor of the increased debt ceiling.
The increased debt ceiling is needed to continue to fund the federal government as spending increases and revenues decrease.
The party-line votes appear to be more party politics than fiscal philosphy. The U.S. debt was approximately $5.769 trillion when Republican George W. Bush took office in early 2001 and increased to approximately $9.985 trillion when he left in early 2009. However, the nearly $2.4 trillion increase in one year under Democratic President Barack Obama trumps any one-year increase under then-President Bush (assuming the new ceiling is reached by mid-January 2010
as many expect).