Senate Democrats promote debt plan once supported by Mitch McConnell

 February 16, 2023

For years, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has often found himself being hit with harsh criticism from Democrats.

Yet in an unexpected move, two Senate Democrats are now advocating for a plan that the Kentucky Republican once championed.  

Senators harken back to 2011

According to the Washington Examiner, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine penned an op-ed piece for the Washington Post on Tuesday in which they advocated for a spending plan that McConnell put forward over a decade ago.

"In 2011, during the last major debt limit standoff, circumstances were very similar to those of today," the senators wrote.

They noted how that year saw "a Republican-controlled House, Democratic-controlled Senate and Democratic president, and the risk of default looming because House Republicans refused to raise the debt limit and pay bills that past Congresses had already incurred."

"When talks between House Republicans and the president faltered, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) proposed a plan for the debt ceiling," Merkley and Kaine recalled.

Merkley and Kaine say proposal "remains a good solution today."

They then explained that McConnell's plan was incorporated into the Budget Control Act of 2011, which permitted President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling.

However, such raises were subject to being overridden by legislators, something Congress could do by passing a joint resolution of congressional disapproval.

According to Merkley and Kaine, this move "took the weaponization of the debt ceiling off the table" and "remains a good solution today."

"This month, we introduced the Protect Our Credit Act of 2023, which would make McConnell’s fix permanent," they declared.

McConnell expressed reservations about plan

However, the Examiner pointed out that McConnell may not be eager to jump on board with what Merkley and Kaine are suggesting. The paper stressed that at the time, McConnell characterized the idea as being something of a last resort and "not my first choice."

"We’re certainly not going to send a signal to the markets and to the American people that default is an option," the Examiner quoted McConnell as telling reporters.

A report issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) this week predicted that the United States is set to default on its debt sometime this summer if action is not taken, saying,

"The projected exhaustion date is uncertain because the timing and amount of revenue collections and outlays over the intervening months could differ from our projections. In particular, income tax receipts in April could be more or less than we estimate," the Examiner quoted the CBO as saying.

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