Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
March 30, 2015

Democrats Introduce Bill to End Debt Limit Brinkmanship

Three Democratic senators, led by Charles E. Schumer of New York, introduced legislation Tuesday to permanently install a new procedure on the debt limit that would all-but-eliminate the threat of default.

The bill would make permanent a rule devised in 2011 by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that uses resolutions of disapproval to enable the president to extend the debt limit while also technically allowing minority lawmakers to vote against that authorization— a maneuver McConnell said  was designed to be used on a case-by-case basis.

Democrats announced the legislation on the same day the Senate was scheduled to vote on a resolution of disapproval for the most recent agreed-upon debt limit hike. The bill would allow the president to ask for a debt ceiling increase when the government got to within $100 billion of its limit and would require Congress to vote on a disapproval resolution within 15 days of the president’s request.

McConnell took to the Senate floor Tuesday morning, before the Democrats held their news conference, to dispute their offering, saying it was never his intent to give the president permanent authority to use the mechanism for debt limit increases. The Kentucky Republican said he could not support a bill Democrats had pegged to his name.

“[Schumer] wants to extend the debt ceiling permanently by going around Congress. Let me repeat that: the so-called ‘Schumer-Obama Plan’ is a plan to permanently hand the president a credit card without spending limits, and without lifting a finger to address the national debt,” McConnell said. “I reject that idea entirely.

“I believe that increases in the debt ceiling should be accompanied by reforms,” he continued. “That’s just what we did in 2011, when Congress raised the debt ceiling in return for enacting $2 trillion in bipartisan spending control — the spending control the president campaigned on endlessly.”

It’s worth noting that the vote Tuesday on a resolution of disapproval to increase the debt limit did not come on the condition of any form of spending cuts or entitlement changes. Holding the vote was supported by 81 senators. And the so-called “credit card without spending limits” that would be possessed by the president is more like a pre-paid card, with Congress appropriating and approving all the spending before the president signs it into law.

McConnell said Democrats would not “find any dance partners on this side of the aisle.” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., one of the bill’s co-sponsors said that “talks are ongoing” with offices of members in both parties to find support for the legislation.

The Democratic sponsors of the measure said they have not talked to the White House about the plan, but are sure President Barack Obama would support it. At this point, it seems unlikely that they can get such a bill approved in either the House or Senate. Strategically, they likely would have had a better chance had they tried to negotiate such a permanent change while they had more leverage over Republicans, such as when the government was shut down and teetering toward default.

  • ID-2

    Figures Democrats would want to give any President, regardless of partisanship the ability to forever spend into oblivion.

    • xian

      you mean preventing congress from voting for spending and then voting for not honoring its earlier vote

      • ID-2

        Mean a Dem congress? Yep.

      • morstar150

        No, I mean that there has not been a discussion or debate at all on any of this spending. Has anybody here ever taken a civics course? Do you even know how the government works? (I should say is supposed to work.) HE’S a LIAR! Pay Attention!

    • morstar150

      Typical response in voting down this comment. You blind followers have no clue what is going on. Another way to describe this process is that select senators will decide to hand the first Trillion Dollar Deficit President an unlimited balance credit card. I hope all of you young folks who adore this socialist recognize what happened when the overdue credit bill comes at a time when you will be trying to send your kids off to college and the country goes bankrupt.

      • ID-2

        I did not agree with it genius.

        • morstar150

          It wasn’t meant for you ID-2 your position was clear. I was commenting on those who voted down your comment because you dared question the insanity of this political process that would even consider giving Obama a blank check.

          • ID-2

            Fair enough.

  • Mojojojo

    Of course it won’t pass, that’s not its purpose. The purpose is to show there aren’t “Cruz conservatives” and mainstream ones—they ALL like default. They’ll ALL vote to be able to threaten default again. They’re ALL Cruz conservatives.

    • morstar150

      I’m sorry but it was the Democrats who voted unanimously to reject any plan to fund the government. NO NEGOTIATIONS. That is their position and this proposed bill is just another example of the Democrats intransigence in negotiating anything that would move to curb spending.

      • Mojojojo

        The GOP wants to kill government. Dems want to grow it. Period.

        This fact is why everyone knows it was conservatives who closed govt, not Dems—this time, and the last two times. Give it up.

        • 1mrt1

          Grow it? thats an understatement

        • morstar150

          Another false statement by the Democrats. Republicans DO NOT WANT TO KILL GOVERNMENT. We just want to bring some sanity to back to Washington. 17 Trillion Dollars of debt later and the Democrats are still crying that we aren’t spending enough. Add to that another 1.7 Trillion to fund Obamacare and if you were the least bit concerned with the out of control spending that is leading the country toward bankruptcy and default you would understand that the NO NEGOTIATION stance of the President and the Senate is what has lead us to this point.

  • Mr. Fusion

    McConnel has to be careful on this one. He took a public battering on the last debt ceiling, more of the same only makes the obstruction appear worse.

    • morstar150

      McConnell doesn’t need to do anything but resign. He is an incompetent, nasty, arrogant, political dinosaur who doesn’t give a damn about the American people. He’s interested in keeping his cushy seat so that he can continue to fleece the people he’s supposed to represent. That goes for Shumer too. And for that matter that goes for about 70% of all of the crooks in the Congress.

  • morstar150

    Democrats introduce a bill to ignore anything anyone has to say in opposition to their agenda. Hey, I read a book about this once, it’s called Animal Farm.

  • radiogirl660

    Unbelievable!!!!! They are actually proposing an unconstitutional statute to take the power away from the people and hand it to the President! The fact it is even being introduced is scary as hell! It is time for every single one of them to go.

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