"Nota Bene" means "note this well" or "take particular notice." We at the O'Quinn Law Library will be posting tips on legal research techniques and resources, developments in the world of legal information, happenings at the Law Library, and legal news reports that deserve your particular attention. We look forward to sharing our thoughts and findings and to hearing from you.

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-Spencer L. Simons, former Director, O'Quinn Law Library and Associate Professor of Law



Thursday, July 21, 2011

Information on the US Federal Debt Limit

With all this debate and concern about the US federal debt limit ceiling (including the constitutionality of it), I'm sure many of you would like to know more about it. Luckily, if you fall into that group, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) has a couple of reports that you may find interesting.

The most recent report is The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases; the CRS has published several reports with this title in the past, but the most recent one, dated July 1, 2011, is piping-hot fresh. It explains how federal debt was dealt with before the institution of an overall aggregated debt limit, and details the tumultuous political wranglings over the debt limit that have occurred in the last decade. [Hat tip to the Law Librarian Blog.]

The second CRS report on the debt limit, dated April 27, 2011, is entitled Reaching the Debt Limit: Background and Potential Effects on Government Operations. This report details the "extraordinary measures" the Treasury has taken at particular moments in the past to postpone reaching the debt limit, usually to allow Congress to raise the ceiling. It also examines the possible implications reaching, and not raising, the debt limit would have on various government operations as well as potential economic and financial effects. This is a very sobering report.

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