Senate Dems file bill to eliminate debt ceiling

Greg Nash

Three Senate Democrats are pushing legislation to eliminate the debt ceiling, an idea recently backed by President Trump. 

Democratic Sens. Christopher Coons (Del.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) have filed the End the Threat of Default Act, which would repeal the borrowing cap. 

“We should instead work together in a bipartisan manner not just to raise the debt limit without conditions, drama, or delay, but also to eliminate it once and for all,” Bennet wrote in a Medium post on Wednesday. 

Bennet added that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “has repeatedly agreed with each of his predecessors that the debt limit is not a matter for negotiation, rejecting arguments that raising it should be conditioned on other policies being attached.”

{mosads}Coons, in a separate statement, added that while Congress should “address our national debt in a sensible bipartisan way,” the current setup is “playing politics with the reputation of the U.S. government and household wealth of Americans.” 

The legislation comes after Trump signaled he is open to getting rid of the debt ceiling, telling reporters aboard Air Force One that there are “a lot of good reasons” for the move. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Trump agreed during a recent closed-door meeting to discuss the issue later in the fall. 

Though the current debt limit formally expires on Dec. 8, the Treasury Department could use “extraordinary measures” to push it into 2018. 

But GOP leaders are warning they don’t think a measure getting rid of the borrowing limit could pass Congress. And some conservative lawmakers, while open to reforming the current debt ceiling structure, aren’t supportive of scrapping it altogether. 

The debt ceiling limit is a perennial problem for GOP leadership. Conservatives want to use the vote to try to force concessions on spending and entitlement reform, but Republicans need support from Democrats in the Senate to get 60 votes. 

Democrats imposed a system, known as the “Gephardt Rule,” in 1980 that automatically raised the debt ceiling when the budget passed. Republicans did away with the rule in 1995.

Schatz added on Wednesday that the current debt ceiling setup centers around “unnecessary brinksmanship.” 

“Paying our debts should be an automatic act, not a politicized weapon used for leverage,” he said. “It’s time to stop these attempts to govern through threats and defuse the bomb by eliminating the debt ceiling altogether.” 

Tags Brian Schatz Christopher Coons Michael Bennet Steven Mnuchin
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