If anyone is wondering about the mechanisms available to raise the debt ceiling, the Congressional Research Service has the details. See the report The Debt Limit: History and Recent Increases (September 25, 2013, RL31967) by D. Andrew Austin and Mindy R. Levit. A companion report is Votes on Measures to Adjust the Statutory Debt Limit, 1978 to Present by Justin Murray (February 15, 2013, RL41814). And while we’re on the subject of turmoil in the government, here’s Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects by Clinton T. Brass (September 25, 2013, RL34680). Note that two of these reports were conveniently issued five days before the government closed.