Democrats Suggest Giving President, Treasury Power to Raise Debt Limit

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After a Tuesday meeting of the Democratic caucus, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spent much of the press conference discussing the debt ceiling. As Republicans continue to block Democratic efforts to raise the debt limit, Pelosi indicated that members of her caucus are already looking for ways to avoid the challenge in the future—specifically, by giving the president-appointed secretary of the Treasury the power to raise the debt limit on their own.

The caucus meeting came after the Senate rejected debate on the Democrat-authored continuing resolution to fund the government Monday evening in a roughly party-line vote. The vote was the culmination of months of posturing by Senate Republicans, who have insisted since August that they would not vote to increase the debt limit.

In a petition drafted by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), 46 Republicans signatories—including former presidential candidates Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)—explained their reasoning.

The petition accused Democrats of an “unprecedented deficit spending spree,” and insisted that they should take ownership for the spending by raising the debt limit on their own. While Democrats do have the votes to do this, it has been an avenue that Democratic leaders have been unwilling to take, as some polls have shown that debt ceiling increases are unpopular with the American people (pdf).

Pelosi, Democrats Considering Both Legislative and Executive Options After Senate Vote

In her Tuesday press conference, Pelosi discussed Democratic plans in the wake of this vote. Because of the “imminent” nature of the debt ceiling crisis, Pelosi said that the caucus spent most of their time on the debt ceiling issue.

She warned of the effects from failing to raise the debt ceiling, including a default for the first time in American history. Such a default, Pelosi said, would wipe out “trillions in family wealth” for middle Americans. Pelosi also warned that “Just the discussion of … failing to raise the debt ceiling [under the Obama Administration] lowered our credit rating.”

By Joseph Lord

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