Around March 16, based on a 2015 government-set deadline, Americans will probably experience another in a series of national debt controversies, this time in part because of Republican control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

The federal government’s debt currently stands at nearly $20 trillion. The debt limit, or debt ceiling, is currently set by law at $20.1 trillion. Nearly every time it has been necessary to raise the limit to stay ahead of federal government spending, the issue has set off turmoil in Congress and between the executive branch and Congress.

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