The House of Representatives Thursday voted to raise the debt limit by $1.9 trillion. That vote raises the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, a new high for the amount of debt the U.S. has ever carried.

As recently as 2001, the U.S. debt was only at $5.7 trillion. But exploded throughout the past decade after Sept. 11, 2001, amid record spending by the Bush and Obama administrations.

If Congress doesn't hike the debt ceiling, the U.S. would be unable make good on Social Security and Medicare payments.

The Senate approved the debt limit increase in mid-January on a 60-40 party-line vote.

The House vote was a close one, 217-212. All Republicans and more than 30 Democrats voted against raising the debt ceiling.

Moderate and fiscally-conscious Democrats were suspect of voting to hike the debt.

The debt ceiling increase is part of a broader bill that would impose so-called "PAYGO" rules on the House. In other words, the House would have to pay for all tax cuts or programs it creates so they are budget neutral.