National Debt Surpasses $19 Trillion for First Time in U.S. History

For the first time ever, the United States’ national debt surpassed $19 trillion, coming in at approximately $19.012 trillion Friday.

After $18 trillion on Dec. 15, 2014, it took a 13 months for the debt to reach the new threshold, which is a slightly quicker climb in debt from years passed. It took about 14 months for the debt to reach $16, $17 and $18 trillion.

A sheet of rare and sought after star notes is seen after the phase of production where the new 100 USD bills are applied with a serial number, a US Federal Reserve seal, are cut and stacked at the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing's Western Currency Facility October 11, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. Photo Credit: AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI

Though the national debt has been a hot-button issue for Republicans, and reduction in spending has been a cornerstone of many GOP presidential candidates’ campaigns, spending does not seem to be on the decline. In fact, over the last few years, the federal government has been free to borrow as much as needed.

Several years ago, Congress passed legislation to increase the debt ceiling to a certain level, which required spending to stop once that threshold was reached. But, rather than reign in spending, Congress has instead suspended the debt ceiling, allowing for more borrowing until that suspension ends.

In November of 2015, after having been frozen at $18.1 trillion for several months, the maximum debt limit was suspended and the national debt grew by $339 billion in just one day.

Currently, the debt ceiling is suspended until March of 2017, meaning the government can borrow an unlimited amount of money until then. President Barack Obama is expected to leave office in January of 2017 with the total national debt nearing $20 trillion.

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