Senate

Sen. Boxer proposes bill to let president raise national debt ceiling

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has proposed legislation that would allow the president to increase the debt ceiling. 

The legislation is intended to avoid the brinksmanship that rattled financial markets last summer as Congress and the White House bickered over extending the nation’s borrowing limit. 

But it would also give the White House more power than Congress over raising the nation’s limit. 

Boxer’s bill would allow the president to raise the debt ceiling unless Congress formally disapproves the increase. The onus for raising the debt ceiling is now on Congress, which must approve legislation raising the debt ceiling that the president signs. 

Boxer said her USA AAA Credit Restoration Act, S. 1713, would set up a “predictable and fair process” for future debt-ceiling hikes, something she says is needed because of the trouble Congress had agreeing to the last increase.

{mosads}”The unnecessary brinkmanship surrounding the debt-ceiling debate this summer weakened our nation’s standing and led to Standard and Poor’s downgrade of America’s credit rating,” she said. “This bill will bring sanity to future debt-limit debates by laying out a clear, orderly process for raising the debt ceiling while allowing all voices to be heard.”

According to a summary of the bill, the Treasury Department would be required to submit a request for a debt-ceiling increase each year, on the same day the president submits a budget plan to Congress. That request would become law unless Congress votes to disapprove it.

Once the request is introduced, the House and Senate would have three days to introduce a joint resolution of disapproval. A majority of House members and just 40 members of the Senate would have the ability to force a floor vote on their respective resolutions, which could be approved by simple majority vote.

Boxer pointed out that her proposal is similar to one that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) proposed over the summer as a way around the debt-ceiling problem. McConnell proposed that President Obama should simply propose a debt-ceiling increase and allow Congress to consider the request.

The debt ceiling is not expected to be increased again until early next year. Under the Budget Control Act, the debt ceiling was raised by $900 billion to a level that is not expected to be breached until February.

Another $1.2 to $1.5 trillion increase in the debt ceiling is scheduled for February, depending on the results of the deficit-reduction “supercommittee.” The government is expected to next run into the debt-ceiling issue in late 2012.

Tags Barbara Boxer Mitch McConnell
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