GOP demands Treasury secretary testify before debt-ceiling hike

More than two dozen House Republicans have put forward legislation that would condition an increase to the debt ceiling on a detailed report from the Treasury Department on what's driving the debt higher, and ways to reduce it.

Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) proposed the Debt Management Act (DMA) on Thursday. Marchant's bill would also require the Treasury secretary to discuss the debt ceiling in testimony to Congress before any increase is allowed.

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"We can no longer yield to the temptation of remorseless borrowing," he said. "America might appear to prosper by consuming beyond our means, but if we continue down this path, the country will eventually face a painful economic reckoning.

"DMA requires the administration to complement debt limit increase requests with reports on the national debt and progress on deficit reduction," he added. "By bringing greater transparency to the national debt and structural deficit, DMA establishes a more credible and consistent process to address debt limit increase requests."

Specifically, Marchant's bill would require Treasury to submit debt reports and progress reports on the debt that describe the steps the administration is taking to address the structural deficit. Marchant says these steps would prevent the administration from simply seeking a debt-ceiling hike without "associated long-term fiscal planning."

The power to spend and the power to raise the debt ceiling lies with Congress. But over the last few years, Congress has shifted some of the responsibility on the debt ceiling to the president.

In 2011, for example, Congress approved the Budget Control Act, which allowed President Obama to request a debt-ceiling increase of $1.2 trillion. That request could only be stopped by House and Senate passage of a resolution of disapproval.

The House passed the resolution of disapproval, but the Senate did not.

Late last month, the House approved a similar resolution disapproving of Obama's congressionally authorized decision to suspend the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, just after the Senate rejected similar language.

Members of the House and Senate Budget committees are in talks to reach a budget agreement, which could also lay the groundwork for another debt-ceiling hike early next year.