With the government borrowing record amounts of money, the nation's current debt ceiling of $12.1 trillion will be pierced soon.
That ceiling is the cap on how much the country allows itself to have in debt. In credit card parlance, the ceiling is the U.S. credit limit. At the end of August, U.S. debt totaled $11.8 trillion. That's roughly $349 billion shy of the statutory limit.
The ceiling is meant to serve as a brake on spending because lawmakers would have to think very seriously before they breach the limit and take a very difficult political vote to do so. In reality, lawmakers really don't have a choice but to raise the ceiling and they know it.
Put simply, if they don't raise the ceiling, the country will go into default on its debt.