ABC News' Sunlen Miller (@sunlenmiller) reports:
More than a dozen conservatives in the House and Senate came together to introduce legislation to “prepare for the worst” by prioritizing payments if the debt ceiling is not raised by Aug. 2.
“At this late stage in the process, it is obvious now to everybody that it is possible, increasingly possible, that we will have not raised the debt ceiling by Aug. 2,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa, told reporters today. “If Aug. 2 does, indeed, pass without the debt ceiling having been raised, we believe that it’s absolutely essential that the federal government have a plan for prioritizing the payments that can and should and really must be made using the resources that the government will have.”
The president has said he couldn’t guarantee payments for social welfare programs such as Social Security or veterans benefits if the government doesn’t receive permission to borrow more funds.
Toomey said the administration’s suggestion that Social Security would not be paid is part of “scare tactics meant to intimidate congressional Republicans” into voting for a package the administration wants.
“The administration should not be threatening to make the debt ceiling impasse more disruptive than it needs to be,” Toomey said.
The bill unveiled today, the “Full Faith and Credit Act,” makes certain obligations priorities so that they will be paid in full even if the government fails to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2.
The three priorities are: interest on the debt, Social Security payments and payroll for active military duty personnel.
Here’s the math of how this could work: For the period from Aug. 3 to Aug. 31, total revenue will be at least $173 billion. The combined costs of interest on the debt, Social Security, and the active duty military pay will be about $81 billion.
Members of Congress today insisted that the legislation is not a substitute for raising the debt limit – but is a mechanism to “minimize disruption” if the deadline is not reached.
“I continue to hope that this legislation never needs to be implemented,” Sen. Toomey said, “but it would be very, very irresponsible to be unprepared or, worse, to be unwilling to minimize the potential for disruption.”