House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday signaled support for giving the Treasury Department unilateral authority to raise the debt limit and ending the requirement for congressional approval.
“I do think it has merit,” the California Democrat told reporters.
Congress has regularly struggled to find enough votes to raise the debt ceiling over the past two decades due to partisan disagreements. Debt ceiling standoffs have in some instances pushed the nation to the brink of economically damaging “fiscal cliffs.”
Democrats were forced to accept a short-term debt limit extension this month after Republicans refused to provide the 10 votes needed in the Senate to give the Treasury Department additional borrowing authority, citing an effort by Democrats to jam through a massive social welfare spending package.
House lawmakers will reconvene today to pass the short-term extension, which provides the Treasury Department borrowing authority only until Dec. 3.
Pelosi on Tuesday pitched a bill authored by House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat, that would give the treasury secretary the power to raise the debt limit without Congress.
Congress could then overrule the decision, but it would require 60 votes in the Senate, a threshold that would almost always require bipartisan support.
“That seems to have some appeal to both sides of the aisle because of the consequences to people of not lifting it,” Pelosi said.
So far, the measure sponsored by Yarmuth, the Debt Ceiling Reform Act, has 14 co-sponsors, but all are Democrats.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress earlier this month that it must act to raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 18 to avoid risking a U.S. default on its loans, which could trigger an economic crisis.
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Original Author: Susan Ferrechio
Original Location: Pelosi backs ending congressional control over debt limit