Schumer Dems poke McConnell with debt-ceiling bill

Three Democratic senators on Tuesday introduced legislation that would permanently allow the president to raise the debt ceiling without the approval of Congress.

The senators dubbed the tactic the “McConnell Rule” after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who crafted a similar process to end a debt ceiling fight in 2011.

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The bill stands little chance of going anywhere, but is meant to poke McConnell by highlighting McConnell’s previous support for the motion of disapproval.

McConnell took to the Senate floor on Tuesday morning to denounce the move as “truly outrageous.”

He said any hike to the debt ceiling should come with spending cuts — otherwise it would be a “blank check” for the government to add to the debt.

“That’s the real ‘McConnell Plan,’ ” the GOP leader said.

He then criticized Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) for sponsoring the new bill, which he called the “Schumer-Obama Plan.”

The bill from Schumer and Democratic Sens. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) would make permanent the solution devised by McConnell during the 2011 debt-ceiling standoff that saddled President Obama with ultimate responsibility for raising the limit.

While Congress would be able to halt the borrowing increase by a vote of disapproval, it would be subject to a presidential veto and have little chance of gaining the necessary supermajorities to override it.

The ploy was used again in the deal to raise the debt ceiling and reopen the government earlier this month — this time without new spending cuts, as Boxer pointed out to reporters Tuesday.

The Senate on Tuesday was debating the resolution of disapproval attached to the new debt-ceiling increase, which lasts through Feb. 7.

In 2011, McConnell fashioned the proposal after past measures, and it was included as part of a broader package. In interviews at the time, he said it was designed to make Obama own the debt-limit increase.

Schumer and Boxer said that McConnell’s response to their bill increases the chances of another bruising debt-ceiling fight in February.

“It is alarming that a leader of the Senate would play games with the debt ceiling and make us a deadbeat nation,” Boxer said after McConnell spoke. “That is a terrible signal to send to the markets.”

“It’s stunning that he would turn against his own proposal,” she added.

The Democrats said “talks” were underway to find a Republican cosponsor of their bill but they had not found one yet. Schumer said the sponsors had not discussed their effort yet with President Obama.

This story was posted at 12:43 p.m. and updated at 1:35 p.m.