Treasury Secretary Urges Congress to Raise Debt Ceiling Through ‘Regular Order’

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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged Congress on Aug. 9 to raise the debt ceiling through “regular order,” as Senate Democrats get ready to pass the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill this week and introduce their $3.5 trillion spending package.

However, neither measure addresses increasing the debt ceiling.

The debt limit suspension expired at the end of July and failure to increase or suspend the statutory limit—now at $28.5 trillion—could trigger another federal government shutdown or a debt default.

“In recent years, Congress has addressed the debt limit through regular order, with broad bipartisan support. In fact, during the last administration, Democrats and Republicans came together to do their duty three times. Congress should do so again now by increasing or suspending the debt limit on a bipartisan basis,” Yellen said in a statement.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) office didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

According to the Congressional Research Service, regular order (pdf and below) is viewed as “a systematic, step-by-step lawmaking process that emphasizes the role of committees: bill introduction and referral to the committee; the conduct of committee hearings, markups, and reports on legislation; House and Senate floor consideration of committee-reported measures; and the creation of conference committees to resolve bicameral differences.”

However, because of fundamental policy and political differences between the two parties that often create gridlock, “the majority party may turn to nontraditional processes, in whole or in part, to advance the legislative agenda.”

Since senators are scheduled for a summer intermission, the debt ceiling will likely be addressed when they return in September, leaving them little time to resolve the heated issue through regular order. In addition, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has indicated that he and his party wouldn’t support raising the debt limit given the massive spending by the Biden administration.

McConnell told Punchbowl News in July that he “can’t imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling” in light of how much Congress has already spent.

By Masooma Haq

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The Regular Order A Perspective PDF


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