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Trillion dollar club: Leaders in Congress who helped amass $34 trillion in national debt


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just the News

The national debt continues to rise sharply to record levels during the ongoing debate in Congress over the next federal spending bill.

The federal government has already piled another $383 billion onto the debt so far into the 2024 fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1.

It appears that increasing Americans' tax burden is a non-partisan issue: Throughout the last 15 to 20 years, the national debt has steadily risen under the leadership of lawmakers from both political parties.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in history, was elected Republican whip in 2003. He started as GOP leader in January 2007 when the national debt was approximately $9 trillion.


The national debt is now fast approaching $34 trillion, according to the most recent U.S. Treasury Department data, meaning it has gone up by $25 trillion since McConnell became leader of the Senate Republicans. Some conservative lawmakers have called on McConnell to retire but he remains.

Control of the House, Senate and White House changed during the period of time covering McConnell's leadership position but he has been a key player with a seat at the table during budget negotiations with the House leaders and the White House.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the current Senate majority leader, was first elected Democratic leader in 2017 when the national debt was nearly $20 trillion. The debt has risen close to $14 trillion since that time. Schumer remained the leader of the Democratic Party, becoming the majority leader in January 2021.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., first elected in 1987, became chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee in April 2018 when the national debt was $21 trillion.:snip:

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