Democrats Move To Restrict Congress’ Power Over Debt Limit

House and Senate Democrats are preparing to introduce a bill on Friday that seeks to revise the debt ceiling process. This move comes after Congress reached a last-minute agreement just before the predicted debt default date outlined by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

The proposed legislation would grant the Treasury Department the authority to ensure uninterrupted payment of the nation’s debt, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

On June 3, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan debt ceiling bill, mere days before the nation faced the risk of defaulting on its debt. Prior to the signing, Biden engaged in negotiations with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to establish the framework of the legislation.

The Debt Ceiling Reform Act, sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA), would grant the Treasury Department the necessary authority to ensure the fulfillment of the country’s financial commitments.

Durbin told the Wall Street Journal, “After a near-catastrophic default thanks to political games by our Republican colleagues, it’s time to put the debt ceiling in the hands of the treasury secretary. We need legislation to reform the way we address the debt ceiling.”

The bill would establish a 30-day period during which Congress could prevent the Treasury from making payments. This could be done through a veto-proof joint disapproval resolution, necessitating a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers. This approach would provide some level of congressional oversight on the debt, enabling members to vote against raising the ceiling instead of voting in favor of increasing it.

Democrats have voiced criticism towards Republicans, accusing them of using the nation’s borrowing limit as a bargaining chip to secure concessions on spending cuts. On the other hand, numerous members within the GOP have criticized President Biden and other Democrats for causing delays in debt limit negotiations.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Boyle expressed his hope that Republican members would show interest in the reform.

Boyle stated that they incorporated certain aspects of a proposal put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) during the 2011 debt limit crisis while crafting the legislation’s parameters.