WASHINGTON, Nov 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department said on Wednesday publicly held U.S. debt breached $9 trillion this week for the first time ever, just five weeks after Congress had raised the statutory borrowing limit.
At the end of September, U.S. President George W. Bush signed a measure to increase the debt limit ceiling to $9.815 trillion from $8.965 trillion, allowing the government to keep issuing debt.
The increase in the debt limit is the fifth since Bush took office in January 2001. The U.S. debt stood at about $5.6 trillion at the start of his presidency.
In approving the debt limit increase, Congressional lawmakers said the $850 billion increase should be large enough to allow the government to continue borrowing into 2009, well beyond next year's presidential and congressional elections.
The Bush administration estimated the U.S. federal budget deficit for fiscal 2007 would total $163 billion. The deficit for the year ended Sept. 30 narrowed by 34.3 percent from the $248 billion gap in fiscal 2006. (Reporting by Nancy Waitz; editing by Gary Crosse)