Three Democratic senators introduced legislation Tuesday that would permanently allow Congress to disapprove debt ceiling increases, instead of approving them.
Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, introduced the Pay Our Bills Act, which they said was based on the “McConnell rule” first proposed in 2011 and employed again in the most recent agreement to end the government shutdown and avoid default.
The bill “would drastically reduce the chances that the debt ceiling could be used as a political weapon designed to extract policy concessions from the opposing party,” the senators said.
“We know from recent history that even the threat of not paying our bills does serious damage to our economy,” Boxer said in a statement. “It’s time for us to put in place a straightforward process to avoid a catastrophic default on our nation’s debt. The Pay Our Bills Act gives both houses of Congress and the president a say, but sends a strong message of certainty to the markets, to our families and to the world.”
“The way it works right now, the debt ceiling is like a ticking time bomb that threatens massive economic destruction,” added Schumer. “This bill would defuse it. By forcing Congress to disapprove debt ceiling increases, we greatly reduce the risk of default that would be a crushing blow to our economy – taking money out of middle-class pockets and destroying middle-class jobs. I hope our Republican colleagues will do the right thing and join in our efforts to limit the risk of default and provide certainty to American families and businesses.”
The disapproval mechanism, or McConnell Rule, was temporarily included in the bipartisan Senate agreement that reopened the government and avoided default earlier this month. This same mechanism was also used to lift the debt ceiling twice following passage of the Budget Control Act.