The U.S. has seen three Republican and three Democratic administrations since the 1980s, but no matter who is in the White House, U.S. debt has been rising steadily throughout the years, also expanding the debt ceiling in the process.
Currently, Congress is once more called upon to raise the amount of debt the country can take on or at least temporarily suspend the debt ceiling mechanism, which says that the Treasury Department is not allowed to go into debt beyond a certain limit unless explicitly authorized by lawmakers. A previous suspension expired on July 31, increasing the debt ceiling to a de-facto $28.5 trillion, the amount of government debt at that time. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that under the present circumstances, her department would run out of money in October.
Despite Democrats and Republicans equally expanding debt while in office, the necessary raising of the debt ceiling is routinely causing a fair share of debate - often stretching until the last minute of the country's solvency. While Democrats have floated another temporary suspension of the limit, Republicans said that the party would not have the GOP's support in such a vote. Republicans are blocking the effort in protest of the current administration's $3.5 trillion budget plan, while Democrats point the finger at Trump era tax cuts that contributed to the need for new debt.
In early 2018 and again in late 2018 and early 2019, the fight about the debt ceiling was not resolved on time, leading to two government shutdowns. Controversies around the DACA act and the border wall caused federal government agencies to largely shut down for three and 35 days, respectively, as Democrats jilted attempts to expand the debt limit. In 2013, the government shut down for 16 days as Republicans were the ones who did not want to support such a measure as money would flow towards the Affordable Care Act.