How The House's Unprecedented Debt Ceiling Bill Could Make The Next Round Much Easier

Business Insider
Jan. 29, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that the Senate will vote sometime this week on the House-passed bill to suspend the debt ceiling, allowing the Treasury to borrow whatever it needs to fund the government through May 18.

The bill, championed by Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Budget Chair Paul Ryan, is an unusual one with a format that is unprecedented in recent debt ceiling history. But analysts think that in some ways, the setup could actually be beneficial for future fiscal talks because it takes out much of the uncertainty leading up to the next potential fight.

The big difference between this debt-ceiling bill is that it is not technically a clean hike in the nation's debt limit. It's a suspension of the debt ceiling for a certain time period. On May 19, the debt limit will be raised by an amount "necessary to fund commitment incurred by the Federal Government that required payment." The Bipartisan Policy Center estimates that number will be around $450 billion.

Though the term "necessary to fund commitment" seems unspecific, the debt ceiling bill actually takes a lot of uncertainty out of the next debate, Loren Adler, a senior policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center, told Business Insider.