Pelosi: Proposal to take debt ceiling authority away from Congress 'has merit'

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise The GOP's post-1/6 playbook is clear — and it's dangerous MORE (D-Calif.) said Tuesday she thinks a bill that would transfer the authority to raise the debt limit from Congress to the Treasury secretary "has merit."

Pelosi's support for shifting the near-annual responsibility of ensuring the U.S. doesn't default on its debts comes as a growing number of Democrats in recent weeks have endorsed abolishing the debt limit in its current form. 

House Budget Committee Chairman John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthTexas Democrat Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces retirement at end of term Dems brace for score on massive Biden bill Midterm gloom grows for Democrats MORE (D-Ky.) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) introduced a bill late last month that would vest the responsibility of raising the debt limit with the Treasury secretary.

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"I think it has merit," Pelosi said of the proposal at a press conference in the Capitol.

The House is scheduled to vote later Tuesday to clear a short-term extension of the debt limit into early December, less than a week before the Oct. 18 deadline in which the Treasury Department estimated the U.S. could start defaulting on its obligations.

The calls for reforming the debt limit came in response to Republicans' insistence in recent weeks that they would not vote to raise the debt limit because they want Democrats to use the budget reconciliation process, which is exempt from a Senate filibuster but is more time-consuming and requires specifying a number to raise the debt limit to, rather than suspending it for a period of time. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season Five victories Democrats can be thankful for Bipartisan success in the Senate signals room for more compromise MORE (R-Ky.) ultimately agreed to supply enough GOP votes to advance a short-term measure to raise the debt limit, arguing it would provide enough time for Democrats to use reconciliation in the coming weeks for a long-term measure and vowing that Republicans wouldn't vote for another extension

Pelosi said late last month that she thinks the Boyle-Yarmuth proposal is an "excellent idea."

But for now, Pelosi and other Democratic leaders are focused on ensuring that legislation to prevent a debt default next week reaches President BidenJoe BidenUS lawmakers arrive in Taiwan to meet with local officials Biden meets with Coast Guard on Thanksgiving Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE's desk.

"In the meantime, we're going to pass a bill today to take us to December," Pelosi said.

Treasury Secretary Janet YellenJanet Louise YellenBlowing up the Death Star would cause an economic crisis (and other reasons employers shouldn't pay off workers' college debt) Buttigieg has high name recognition, favorability rating in Biden Cabinet: survey Biden's spending binge makes Americans poorer, just before the holidays MORE last month endorsed the idea of abolishing the debt limit in its current form. 

The White House has not yet indicated if Biden supports similar reforms to the debt limit.

“Right now, our focus is on raising the debt ceiling and the limited amount of time we have left to do that," White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiRussian military buildup puts Washington on edge White House looks to rein in gas prices ahead of busy travel season Biden: Guilty verdicts in Arbery case 'not enough' MORE said last week. "There’s plenty of time to have a conversation after that."