Debt Ceiling to Rise by Week's End

By week's end, the nation's debt ceiling will be increased by $1.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion, as the Senate is expected to vote down a symbolic resolution objecting to the hike.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., with little fanfare, set up a Thursday NOON vote on the House-passed measure, which expresses opposition to raising the U.S. government's borrowing limit. 

Republicans are expected to support the resolution, baked into last year's debt ceiling agreement negotiated with the White House. Even if the measure were to pass, the president could veto it, though few Democrats are expected to join their GOP colleagues.

In past years, increasing the debt ceiling was merely a perfunctory move, much like naming a post office, but as the nation's economy spiraled downward into recession and the debt surpassed $14 trillion last year, fiscal conservatives, urged on by the Tea Party, rose up in opposition.

Supporters of the increase argue that it would be irresponsible not to pay for debts already incurred. 

But Congress, as part of the debt ceiling agreement in August, will not again confront a true vote to increase the borrowing limit again until after this year's election.