A group of House Democrats accused Republicans of having "weaponized" the debt ceiling Wednesday, and are pushing to abolish it.
lawmakers blasted GOP members as taking the economic wellbeing of the
nation hostage to achieve political victory, and are hoping to scrap the
debt limit once and for all as a danger looming over the economy.
The bill is
almost surely doomed in the House, which is led by Republicans adamant
on extracting spending concessions in exchange for a vote to hike the
nation's $16.4 trillion borrowing limit.
The lawmakers agreed that
both parties have made political hay out of votes to raise the debt
ceiling in the past — even President Obama voted against raising the
limit in 2006 as a senator. But they maintained that the fight over
raising the limit in the summer represents a new watershed on the issue,
as some Republicans legitimately opposed raising the debt limit without
major spending concessions.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said Republicans had made the limit into an "economic weapon of mass destruction."
serious about it. The question with the Republicans is not whether they
have the power to plunge Americans into default, it's a question of
whether they have the restraint not to do it," he added.
ceiling has been a harmless exercise in minor political propaganda from
time to time," said Nadler. "But they have…weaponized the debt ceiling
and made it into an active threat to the American economy."
Moran (D-Va.) called the debt limit an "archaic quirk" and a
"legislative relic" whose usefulness is long gone and should be erased.
using the limit as a way to extract concessions, Democrats also blasted
GOP priorities, calling them misguided for the economy. They vowed to
fight against any attempt to cut into safety net programs like Social
Security and Medicare.
"We're beyond cutting fat. We're cutting bone, we're cutting vital services," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).
nation reached its borrowing limit on Dec. 31, and the Treasury
Department is currently employing "extraordinary measures" to buy time
for Congress to raise it. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has warned
lawmakers that the government will no longer be able to meet all its
obligations as soon as mid-February.
Republicans, led by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), are likely to push for the same policy as the last time the debt limit emerged, which is it get an equal amount of spending cuts for any boost to the borrowing limit. Meanwhile, President Obama has said he will not negotiate with Republicans over hiking the limit — the same position he originally staked out in the last fight.
Updated at 12:10 p.m.