This obviously isn't surprising, but the GOP delayed a necessary vote to raise the debt ceiling until after the elections to avoid political embarassment:
Federal operations are unlikely to be affected because Congress is certain to raise the debt limit in a lame-duck session in November. Congressional Republicans had wanted to avoid an embarrassing vote to raise the debt ceiling just a few weeks before Election Day.
Since Mr. Bush took office in January 2001, the federal debt has increased about 40 percent, or $2.1 trillion, to $7.4 trillion. Congress has raised the debt ceiling three times in three years, raising it most recently by $984 billion in May 2003.
On Thursday, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow said that the federal government was about to breach the limit again and would be able to keep operating only if it started tapping money intended for the civil service retirement fund, the pension system for federal workers.