Reports that the recent debt ceiling vote will allow the Government to borrow thru 2013 may be at best incomplete, or at worst erroneous. Though details are sparse, there does seem to be a little confusion about the actual mechanics of how the debt ceiling will be raised thru 2013. It appears that there is a 3 stage process that requires a second debt ceiling vote at some point in time, before the end of this year, and another vote in 2012, sometime between May and September.
This gave the US Treasury Department an immediate authority to borrow USD 400 billion.
The legislation allows the government to borrow into 2013 by increasing the debt limit in two stages. The first increase will raise the debt limit by $900 billion, with the president having immediate access to $400 billion. The additional $500 billion could be blocked by Congressional disapproval, which the president could veto.
The New York Times indicates that initially the debt ceiling is raised by 400 billion, and an additional 500 billion will be needed "to carry through February". While the WAPO says the 500 billion will automatically kick in in the fall, "unless two-thirds of both chambers of Congress voted to prevent it".
With Congress often gridlocked it seems very unlikely that the 2/3'rds majority can be mustered to prevent the 500 billion debt ceiling increase.
Reports indicate that the debt ceiling increase totals 2.1 trillion. Appearances at this time indicate there can be a debt ceiling vote to not activate the 500 billion late this year, or early in 2012, while an additional increase of 1.1 trillion will be needed to get thru 2013. this hints at the possibility of a total of 2 more debt ceiling votes in Congress to get the country thru to the end of 2013.
A Congressional vote on the debt ceiling during a Presidential campaign, possibly even just months away from the election in November can make for interesting times, as the old Chinese curse infers.