Schumer to introduce debt-limit legislation
By Julian Hattem - 10/20/13 11:35 AM ET
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will propose legislation that would make permanent a scheme to take the decision to raise the country’s debt limit out of Congress’s hands.
By making the so-called “McConnell rule” permanent, the president would have ultimate authority to raise the debt limit and prevent the United States from defaulting.
Congress would still have power to oppose raising the debt ceiling, but would not have to vote to increase the borrowing limit.
“If we were to do that, the chances of going up to the brink again, the chances of this kind of debacle, will decrease,” Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Late on Wednesday, the House and Senate passed legislation to raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit and reopen the federal government.
Technically, though, the bill actually gives power to the president to raise the debt ceiling, and allows Congress to override that decision.
Because the vote to oppose the increase would need to override a presidential veto, however, the odds that Congress could prevent the debt ceiling from being raised are incredibly slim.
The scheme was the brainchild of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and was first used to raise the debt ceiling in 2011, the last time the issue became a point of contention in Congress.
Schumer on Sunday said that his bill would be in the same spirit of the rule and “says that Congress must disapprove rather than approve increases in the debt ceiling.”
Republicans seem unlikely to support the measure.
Appearing on the show with Schumer on Sunday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said that calling it the "debt ceiling" is a “misnomer.”
“The first thing you do when you’re addicted to something is to present the reality to yourself that you’re addicted,” he said.
“The real problems are we continue to spend money on things we don’t need.”