Government Shutdown
There is a need to pass a bill extending routine government funding after a stopgap bill expires March 27. Without an extension, a partial government shutdown would occur. Congress must pass this spending bill, called a continuing resolution or “CR,” which would continue spending after Sept. 30, 2013, the end of the 2013 fiscal year. As it stands now, the government’s legal authority to borrow more money runs out in mid-October, 2013. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, if that date arrived on October 18, the Treasury “would be about $106 billion short of paying all bills owed between October 18 and November 15. The congressionally mandated limit on federal borrowing is currently set at $16.7 trillion. The debt limit has been raised 13 times since 2001 and has grown from about 55 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2001 to 102 percent of GDP last year.

U.S. has defaulted at least twice

from USAToday,

President Obama and members of Congress say the nation faces the prospect of a first-ever debt default later this week, but that's not exactly true.

As the Associated Press notes, the government has defaulted at least twice before — once because of a 19th century war and once because of a 20th century paperwork problem.

During the War of 1812, the British invaded Washington and burned down the White House; an empty U.S. Treasury could not even afford to pay American troops.

A second default in 1979 flowed from "a back-office glitch that ended up costing taxpayers billions of dollars," the AP reported. "The Treasury Department blamed it on a crush of paperwork partly caused by lawmakers who — this will sound familiar — bickered too long before raising the nation's debt limit."

Members of both parties will try to avoid a similar fate this week by raising the $16.7 trillion debt ceiling ahead of Thursday's vote.

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