Republican Leaders Have Not Settled on How Much Additional Borrowing Congress Should Legally Permit

By Dan Joseph | March 31, 2011 | 4:53 PM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) flanked by House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R.-Texas), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R.-Calif.) on Capitol Hill, March 29, 2011. (J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press)

( - House Republican leaders have not yet settled on the specific amount of additional borrowing authority they believe Congress should grant the U.S. Treasury when the U.S. House of Representatives votes sometime in the coming weeks to increase the statutory limit on the national debt, the spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R.-Ohio) told

“I don’t think we have a specific number yet,” Boehner Spokesman Michael Steel said Thursday.

When President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, federal law limited the national debt to $11.315 trillion. Since then, Congress and the president have increased the debt ceiling three times.  In February 2009, they increased it to $12.104 trillion. In December 2009, they increased it to 12.394 trillion. And in February 2010, they increased it to 14.294 trillion.

As of the close of business on Wednesday, according to the Treasury Department, the government had only $136 billion in additional borrowing authority before hitting the debt ceiling.

The White House Office of Management and Budget has estimated that the federal government will run a $1.27 trillion deficit in fiscal year 2011.