The national debt rose above $26 trillion for the first time this week, as the U.S. government spends at a historic pace while pumping trillions into coronavirus relief.
The debt has been climbing upward at a startling pace. According to data released by the Treasury Department, the national debt hit $24 trillion on April 7 and $25 trillion on May 5.
Meanwhile, the government recorded a budget deficit of $1.88 trillion for the first eight months of this budget year, larger than any annual shortfalls in U.S. history. The deficit for the October-May period was more than double the $738.6 billion for the same period last year, according to Treasury Department numbers released Wednesday.
The Congressional Budget Office is forecasting that this year’s deficit will hit $3.7 trillion, which would be more than double the record $1.4 trillion deficit set in 2009.
This comes after Congress has passed, and President Trump has signed, four coronavirus relief bills, including the $2.2 trillion CARES Act in late March. The legislative package provided funds to fight the coronavirus as well as help businesses and workers weathering the economic downturn.
This instantly accelerated spending and contributed to the record deficit, and lawmakers have pushed to spend even more as the pandemic drags on.
House Democrats on May 15 passed the HEROES Act, a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill that received 14 "no" votes from Democratic lawmakers who warned it was dead on arrival in the Senate.
Indeed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has pushed back and shown little inclination to take up that package for now.
Senior Treasury Department officials said in May that the U.S. is borrowing more in the second quarter than in all of 2019 because of efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.