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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Despite what you've heard from congressional Republicans over the last decade, there's no limit to how much the government can spend — and that'll become evident as the federal government prepares its "phase three" coronavirus stimulus package.

Why it matters: U.S. government spending is about to skyrocket, with checks going out to individuals, loans being handed to companies and other attempts to stanch the coming economic pain.

How it works: When Congress passes a spending bill, Treasury borrows all of the necessary funds by issuing Treasury bonds.

  • There is no debt ceiling at the moment — it was suspended in last year's budget deal — so Treasury can issue as many new bonds as it wants.
  • Because the U.S. government is considered the safest borrower in the world, there is always ample demand for Treasury bonds.
  • The bonds are sold to banks, and if the banks don't have enough money to buy them, the Federal Reserve will lend them as much as they need. The banks then turn around and sell the bonds, at a small profit, to investors from around the world.

The big picture: The stimulus' impact on the national debt isn't a big worry on Capitol Hill, several Democratic and Republican aides tell Axios. 

  • "Folks aren't super concerned about debt right now — they just want to act. … And we normally would be [concerned], but this is uncharted territory,” one Senate GOP aide said.
  • "We’re going to borrow and the debt will go up,” another GOP aide said, adding that there haven’t been many discussions about the longer-term economic impact. "The truth is that we need to spend money to help people right now."

Worth noting: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has not scored either the "phase two" plan or "phase three" proposal, so their ultimate cost to the government is still unknown.

Go deeper

46 mins ago - Politics & Policy

McConnell drops filibuster demand, paving way for power-sharing deal

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (R) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attend a joint session of Congress. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has abandoned his demand that Democrats state, in writing, that they would not abandon the legislative filibuster.

Between the lines: McConnell was never going to agree to a 50-50 power sharing deal without putting up a fight over keeping the 60-vote threshold. But the minority leader ultimately caved after it became clear that delaying the organizing resolution was no longer feasible.

2 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Google won't donate to members of Congress who voted against election results

Sen. Ted Cruz led the group of Republicans who opposed certifying the results. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Google will not make contributions from its political action committee this cycle to any member of Congress who voted against certifying the results of the presidential election, following the deadly Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Several major businesses paused or pulled political donations following the events of Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters, riled up by former President Trump, stormed the Capitol on the day it was to certify the election results.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Minority Mitch still setting Senate agenda

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Chuck Schumer may be majority leader, yet in many ways, Mitch McConnell is still running the Senate show — and his counterpart is about done with it.

Why it matters: McConnell rolled over Democrats unapologetically, and kept tight control over his fellow Republicans, while in the majority. But he's showing equal skill as minority leader, using political jiujitsu to convert a perceived weakness into strength.