Trump wanted to do away with debt ceiling
President Trump floated the idea of scrapping the debt ceiling altogether in a Wednesday meeting with congressional leaders.
In the meeting, in which Trump acceded to Democratic demands for a short-term debt ceiling lift to be coupled with a three-month extension on government funding and Hurricane Harvey relief, the president said that debt ceiling votes were unproductive and that the next such vote could be the last.
Details of the meeting were first reported by Politico and later confirmed by The Hill.
Bills to raise the debt ceiling are considered must-pass because they expand the government’s borrowing authority to prevent financially catastrophic debt defaults.
Democrats and government officials have in the past called for ending the debt ceiling, calling it a needless hurdle since the increase in borrowing authority covers spending already authorized by Congress.
Various factions in Congress have used the debt ceiling to try to pass other priorities. Conservative Republicans, for example, want to attach spending reforms, while Democrats are hoping to use the December vote on the issue to codify the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects immigrants brought into the U.S. illegally as children.
On Thursday, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said he was pushing for a plan to use a budget loophole to pass a debt ceiling alongside an ObamaCare repeal before the end of September. That would require rewriting budget rules known as reconciliation and moving legislative mountains before Sept. 30, when the 2017 budget instructions expire.
Republicans were stunned by Trump’s decisions in the Wednesday meeting, in which he took the position of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) over Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and members of his administration.
According to Politico, Republicans in the meeting suggested an alternate fix in the form of the “Gephart Rule,” which would couple borrowing authority with newly passed budgets.
Wednesday’s deal would postpone the most recent debt ceiling showdown from late September until December.