You need to keep in mind what a debt ceiling is and isn't.
A debt ceiling means the treasury can't borrow more money by way of issuing new bonds (see below for some history). This in turn (combined with the restriction of Article IV of the Constitution regarding "Full Faith and Credit") results in the treasury having not enough cash flow to pay all creditors whose bills come due. For our (and treasury's) purpose, government appropriations for social welfare and other services qualify as a creditor of the treasury.
The treasury can't not pick and choose between which creditors it pays (paid as and when due); as this would require the electorate to decide on what creditors are more important and Article IV has never been tested under fire (a scenario of an essentially insolvent government).
So when people say a debt ceiling doesn't exist this side of February 7th 2014, they are referring to the fact the treasury can issue more bonds to remain cash-flow solvent. So yes, there is no currently enforced borrowing limit/debt ceiling. I think both parties are too exhausted to cap the ceiling before they've had some time for private consensus on how to move forward.
- The Liberty Bond Acts set a limit of $5 Billion then $8 billion
for World War I war bonds. These are considered the first categorical
debt ceiling example as war debt was the primary source of debt prior to
20th century social reforms. Wars are no slouch at creating debt
- The Public Debt Acts (1939 - 1946) aggregated debt
classification and progressively raised the treasury's borrowing
limit to $300 billion by the end of WWII. The 1946 Act reduced
the limit (ceiling) to $275 billion and can be seen as the first
legislative example of raising and lowering limits in the manner of
- By the time of the Korean War this precedent of raising or lowering
borrowing limits was well established. This was usually automatic as
the legislature that controlled the appropriation bills (i.e.
whatever the budget was) would pass the obviously co-related bill for
the borrowing limit.
- However, the debt ceiling was politicised in either '80s or '90s
depending on who you speak to and whether intent or effect is more
important a milestone. We've had to put up with this ever since due
to no concrete way of dealing swiftly with deadlocks between
chambers of Congress (i.e. No dissolution trigger for the bicameral