Illustration of people on ladders pushing up ceiling to make room for large dollar sign (State Dept./D. Thompson)

What is a debt ceiling and why does it matter?

The legal limit on how much debt the U.S. government can take on is called the debt ceiling. It's a good bet it will be in the news again soon.
Illustration of people carrying giant rolled-up document up U.S. Capitol steps (State Dept./D. Thompson)

How a bill becomes law

A combination of traditions, "checks and balances" and math all factor into how a bill becomes a law in the United States.
General view of the UNESCO building (© Charles Platiau/Reuters)

U.S. withdraws from UNESCO

The United States is withdrawing from UNESCO and is seeking observer status at the organization, citing the agency's anti-Israel bias and need for reform.
Illustration of person drawing on easel with Congress and crowd behind him (State Dept./D. Thompson)

The president’s budget explained

Creating the U.S. budget is a yearlong process that begins with the president’s plan. The two branches of Congress wrangle over it. Everyone has to agree.
Child and woman in small courtyard with water pump (© Raveena Aulakh/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

A fix for latrines in Bangladesh

Despite Bangladesh's remarkable sanitation progress, faulty latrines still endanger health. A low cost public-private partnership tackles that problem.
Alex Acosta smiling (© Jabin Botsford/Washington Post/Getty Images)

Meet Alex Acosta, U.S. secretary of labor

Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, a lawyer skilled in labor and civil-rights issues, rose from modest roots to the top of his field. Here's his story.
Drawing of three Japanese men and woman (Library of Congress, https://lccn.loc.gov/2008680261)

Japanese woodblock prints online — and free

The most recent gift from the U.S. Library of Congress to the world is a collection of more than 2,500 stunning Japanese woodblock prints.
Puerto Rico flag flying atop a damaged building (Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images)

Hurricane Maria in pictures

Hurricane Maria recently pummeled Puerto Rico and its Caribbean neighbors. These images capture the destruction and ongoing relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
Men lowering furniture from a balcony (© AP Images)

USAID works alongside Mexican teams to rescue, rebuild

U.S. disaster relief teams partner with their counterparts in Mexico to search for earthquake survivors and provide humanitarian relief.