WASHINGTON (WCBD) – Representative Mark Sanford introduced a bill that would return to Congress the process of setting the debt limit to a dollar sign instead of based on a date.
“The latest suspension of the debt limit expires today at which point a new debt limit will be set. This process is backwards. Instead of allowing the debt to increase to a certain date, Congress should return to setting the debt limit to a maximum amount. To do otherwise allows Washington to avoid confronting the increases in the debt, as I believe we should.”
From World War II to 2011, Congress took specific votes on the debt ceiling, setting a dollar limit on exactly how much borrowing would be allowed by the federal government. Since 2011, the dollar amount has been replaced with a window of time and the debt ceiling increase since then has been based on the debt incurred during that period.
“This about it this way: You lend a family member your credit card. On the one hand, you stipulate that they can only spend $500 dollars. On the other hand, you simply say that they can use it for the next two months. These two scenarios will almost certainly bring about quantifiable difference in the way money is spent – not to mention the amount. That is essentially what is occurring on a federal level.”
Specifically, the H.R. 1529, the Debt Limit Control and Accountability Act of 2017 would:
- Prevent the Treasury Department from using accounting gimmicks – known as “extraordinary measures” to avoid hitting the debt limit;
- Repeals the authority of the president to modify the debt limit because the Constitution gives Congress the power of the purse; and
- Expresses the sense of Congress that the debt limit should not be suspended, that increases should be tied to spending cuts or controls, and that the Treasury Department should prioritize payments in a way that prevents a default, if the debt limit is breached.