<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&amp;c2=15743189&amp;cv=2.0&amp;cj=1&amp;&amp;c5=&amp;c15=">

National debt hits $20 trillion for first time in history

091117 national debt now 20 trillion-pic
The debt ceiling had been frozen at about $19.84 trillion since mid-March. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The national debt exceeded $20 trillion for the first time ever on Friday, the same day President Trump signed a bill into law that suspended the debt ceiling and allowed unlimited federal borrowing.

The debt ceiling had been frozen at about $19.84 trillion since mid-March, and the Treasury Department was forced to use "extraordinary measures" to prevent borrowing from exceeding that level.

But with Trump's signature on Friday, the debt ceiling was suspended, and the Treasury Department immediately began borrowing money to fill the more than five months of pent-up demand.

The total national debt jumped $318 billion and now stands at $20.162 trillion as of Friday, according to data released Monday. Data on the national debt is released each business day and reflects the status of the debt on the previous business day.

The national debt usually increases by large amounts when the debt ceiling is suspended following several months where the government is at its borrowing limit. In 2015, for example, the national debt jumped $339 billion in a single day after President Obama signed legislation suspending the debt ceiling after the U.S. was at the debt ceiling for nine months.

Under the bill Trump signed into law on Friday, the federal government will not face any borrowing cap until after Dec. 8, when the debt ceiling will be in effect again. However, Congress is expected to act once more before that date and provide a much longer extension.

Republicans were pushing for a suspension of 18 months, well past the 2018 mid-term elections. But before they can get there, GOP leaders will face pressure from most House Republicans to agree to some kind of spending limitation.

Trump criticized the growing national debt under the Obama administration when he was campaigning for president, and talked as president about the need to rein in the debt and spending.

When he first took office, Trump spent hundreds of billions of dollars in cash held by the government, which reduced the need for more borrowing and kept the debt from exceeding $20 trillion.

But last week, Trump indicated he could be open to the idea of getting rid of the ceiling entirely.

"For many years people have been talking about getting rid of debt ceiling altogether and there are a lot of good reasons to do that," Trump said. "So certainly that is something that could be discussed. We even discussed it at the meeting we had yesterday."

That idea is likely to be opposed by most Republicans who see the occasional battle over the debt ceiling as leverage to win spending reforms.