The US public debt topped 12 trillion dollars for the first time in history, Treasury officials disclosed Tuesday, moving past a key barrier that raised hackles in Congress.

Treasury data showed Monday's outstanding debt at 12.031 trillion dollars, up from 11.999 trillion on Friday.

The ballooning debt reflects the massive deficit spending by the government in an effort to revive an ailing economy over more than one year.

The public debt topped 10 trillion dollars in September 2008.

The debt is quickly approaching the statutory limit of 12.104 trillion dollars, meaning Congress would have to raise the ceiling to prevent a shutdown of government operations.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said the debt figures represented unwelcome news and that the 787 billion dollar stimulus plan passed earlier this year failed to keep unemployment from topping 10 percent.

"This should serve as an urgent warning that the government can't keep spending money it doesn't have," he said.

"Thousand-page bills that spend too much, borrow too much and tax too much are exactly the wrong approach for creating jobs. It's my sincere hope that the administration will work with us on bipartisan efforts to reduce the debt, lower health care costs and help employers grow jobs."