Mitch McConnell’s ‘Last Choice Option’ on Debt Ceiling

By Eliza

Jul 12, 2011 3:08pm

pol abc mcconnell 110712 wb Mitch McConnells Last Choice Option on Debt Ceiling

ABC News' Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) reports:

A big, unexpected, move from Mitch McConnell ….

Telling reporters that “default is not an option,” the Senate Republican leader outlined a stop-gap measure that would allow President Obama to get a debt limit increase with NO SPENDING CUTS.

Yes, you heard that right.

He called it “a last choice option” and a “back-up plan” – here’s how it would work:

Congress would pass a bill giving the president the authority to ask for $2.5 trillion in debt limit increases between now and 2013.  These requests – which would require not one penny in spending cuts – would not need Congressional approval.  Instead, they would be subject to something called a “resolution of disapproval.” 

Congress could, and probably would, vote to disapprove of such an increase, but the President could then veto that resolution of disapproval.  Overriding that veto would, like any veto override, would require a two-thirds majority of both houses.

In other words a mere 1/3 (plus one) of either chamber could defeat the override and give the president his debt ceiling increase.

Under McConnell’s plan, the votes would come in three “tranches” — $700 billion now with the passage of McConnell’s plan, and then two more votes of $900 billion each.  Again, all of these could only be defeated with a “resolution of disapproval.”

Confused?

Here’s the bottom line:  Under McConnell odd plan, the President could get a clean, no-strings-attached debt ceiling increase of $2.5 trillion, but he would have to endure three politically treacherous votes that would allow upwards of two-thirds of the Congress to be on record disapproving of his actions.

In other words, the President would get his debt ceiling increase and Republicans would score political points, but there would be no guarantee of any spending cuts.

It’s hard to imagine this flies with the House Republicans who have made the spending cuts the their primary goal.  We’ll see.

Again:  This is a “last choice option” to be pursued only if the White House talks fail to produce agreement.

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