House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says Congress may need to raise the U.S. federal debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion.

The current debt limit by law stands at $12.1 trillion.

“We’ve incurred this debt. We have to pay our bills,” Hoyer, a Democrat from Maryland told political website Politico Wednesday.

That increase is nearly double what had been expected earlier this year.

“It is December, We don’t really have a choice,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, a Democrat from Wisconsin, told Politico.

“The bill’s already been run up; the credit card has already been used. When you get the bill in the mail you need to pay it,” he added.

Correction: A headline in a December 10, 2009 article on a Congressional proposal to raise the federal debt limit incorrectly stated that the ceiling would be raised by $1.8 billion. The correct figure is $1.8 trillion.

Last update 1:57 p.m.