Friday, 29 Sep 2023

Top Democrats say Biden should make this year's 'craziness' the last debt limit fight ever

Top Democrats say Biden should make this year's 'craziness' the last debt limit fight ever

Even as Joe Biden appears to have pushed off reaching the next debt limit until 2025, top Democrats on Capitol Hill say what he really needs to do is what he should have done last fall: Come out in favor of a drastic change to strip Congress of this power forever.

Given the current math in the chamber, every senator in the Democratic Caucus would need to support such a change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he couldn't get votes from West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin or Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (who continues to caucus with Democrats, despite leaving the party).

But Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Pennsylvania Rep. Brendan Boyle - along with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and others - told CNN that this time around was a breaking point.

After years of obsessing mostly on his own over changing the debt limit, racking up trivia like how the process was an inadvertent fluke of World War I, Boyle said he started feeling the change three weeks ago, when he stood up after a presentation about expected cuts at a dinner of 50 House Democrats and pleaded, "We absolutely have to resolve here and now, this is the last time we go through this craziness."

Boyle, a longtime and committed Biden ally, said he wasn't expecting the loud round of applause that night, or the steady stream of colleagues who have come up to him on the House floor since asking to sign on to his bill, but he's glad to have it, even as White House spokesperson Michael Kikukawa ducked a firm answer on whether Biden would support the change. The president's focus, Kikukawa said, remains preventing default, and "other options are a question for another day."

Originally Boyle backed eliminating the debt limit entirely. But over the years, he refined the proposal in an attempt to broaden its appeal, and his most recent bill gives the administration the authority through the Treasury Department to raise the debt limit, while retaining Congress's ability to override that decision if it wants to actively force the issue.

Calling the change "a reasonable thing for us all to consider once we get through this manufactured MAGA madness and the debt default that they put us on the brink of considering," Jeffries said in an interview amid the negotiations that he "absolutely" wants it to be at the top of the agenda the next time Democrats are in control of the House, Senate and White House - which he's hoping will be after next year's elections, though could be decades away.

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