Did the deal allow the President to set the debt limit from now on?

posted at 8:16 am on October 17, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

That rumor has been flying around, in part due to the natural opacity of last-minute deals struck at the eleventh hour of a “crisis.”  The legislative branch controls the debt ceiling, but Democrats have occasionally proposed to either eliminate it altogether or allow the executive to set it — at least when a Democrat is President.  So what exactly did the Reid-McConnell bill do to the debt ceiling?  Politico has the source of some confusion on this at the bottom of their story:

The legislation also includes a McConnell-written proposal that would allow Congress to disapprove of the debt-ceiling increase. Lawmakers will formally vote on rejecting the bump of the borrowing limit – if it passed, it could be vetoed by Obama.

The deal would also deliver back pay to furloughed federal workers, require a study of income verification for people seeking health-insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act and also allows the Treasury Department to use extraordinary measures to pay the nation’s bills if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling in a timely fashion.

Kerry Picket at Breitbart also noted the rumors that the deal took the debt ceiling out of Congress’ hands (working off of an earlier version of Politico’s story), but included a caveat:

The plan includes a proposal offered by McConnell in the 2011 debt ceiling crisis that allows Congress to disapprove of the debt ceiling increase, which means lawmakers will formally vote on whether to reject a debt ceiling increase until Feb. 7. Obama can veto that legislation if it passes. If Congress fails as expected to gather a two-thirds majority to override the veto, the debt ceiling would be raised. …

However it would only apply to the next debt ceiling vote.  The debt limit can only currently be increased if Congress affirmatively votes to raise it and the president signs it into law.  During Congress’ last debt limit debate in 2011, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) wanted to invert this process by making it automatic, unless Congress voted against it and the president did not veto it.  Theoretically, Congress could override a veto, but given the current makeup of both chambers that would be nearly impossible.

This looks more like an out in case the debt ceiling gets hit before the February 7th deadline.  The language starts on page 24 of the bill, in a section that expires on February 7th and only applies to payments due before February 8, 2014.  It’s essentially a way to ensure that Congress doesn’t have to have another debt-ceiling fight earlier than expected, allowing Obama to suspend the debt ceiling only with a presentation to Congress that the current ceiling would be hit for obligations due before February 8th.  It then gives Congress the ability to overrule Obama if necessary, but this again only applies for the short period of the deal.  After February 7th, the normal order returns, and Congress has to raise debt ceilings again.

It’s still something to watch in the future, but at the moment this just looks like a temporary method to make sure the can stays kicked until February 7th.

Update: Let me add a couple of more caveats.  The executive cannot spend what is not appropriated by Congress, except for statutory spending — entitlements — and interest payments on the debt.  This may be a response to threats from credit-rating agencies to lower our credit rating, which might force us to offer higher yields on our bonds and will then require us to make larger interest payments.  The debt ceiling doesn’t enable executive-branch spending the same way a credit card does for households, in other words.

Update: As Steve Eggleston notes in the comments, it’s the same language as in the last deal.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

http://youtu.be/IN1h5av2Bj0

Ben Hur on October 17, 2013 at 8:23 AM

The language is exactly the same form that the language authorizing the first debt-ceiling suspension was.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:24 AM

The only question remaining is whether Obama filed the necessary finding that triggers the automatic debt-ceiling suspension/raise, or is he really going to default on $84 million in interest.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:26 AM

It’s still something to watch in the future, but at the moment this just looks like a temporary method to make sure the can stays kicked until February 7th.

Yay. Now on to amnesty :/

TxHotGas on October 17, 2013 at 8:27 AM

We need to stop maxing out the credit card…. geez

cmsinaz on October 17, 2013 at 8:29 AM

Yup lsm is focusing on immigration now for Obama

cmsinaz on October 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM

So it passed I take it?

gophergirl on October 17, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Related, 70,068 federal employees (not seasonally adjusted) filed for unemployment claims on the federal unemployment insurance program 2 weeks ago (week-ending 10/5).

Meanwhile, initial jobless claims for last week, on a seasonal basis, dropped from the prior inflated-by-30K-by-California 373K (revised downward by 1K) to 355K. Nobody knows how many federal employees filed for unemployment last week.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:35 AM

So it passed I take it?

gophergirl on October 17, 2013 at 8:33 AM

Yep. Easily in the Senate. The House had I believe every Democrat vote for it, but 144 Republicans(i.e. a large majority) voted against it. So basically it’s the tax hike all over again. Boehner casts the Hastert Rule aside and acts like Pelosi in order to get a bill passed.

BTW Ed, I hope that you, Erika, or AP do a post on the $2 billion pork barrel gift to McConnell in the bill. That alone should get this fraud booted out of office in the 2014 primary. Unless Matt Bevin pulls a Todd Achin’, he’s got my support.

Doughboy on October 17, 2013 at 8:37 AM

BTW Ed, I hope that you, Erika, or AP do a post on the $2 billion pork barrel gift to McConnell in the bill. That alone should get this fraud booted out of office in the 2014 primary. Unless Matt Bevin pulls a Todd Achin’, he’s got my support.

Doughboy on October 17, 2013 at 8:37 AM

Don’t worry – MiniCave and his allies-of-convenience in the Presstitute Organs will create an Akin out of thin air if he loses in the primary.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Meanwhile, McShame being shameless on CNBC right now lambasting the same pork he voted for not 10 hours ago.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:39 AM

With the latest news on the IRS scandal maybe it will be Biden by that time.

They connected IRS bad guys to top staffers at the spite house a few days ago.

dogsoldier on October 17, 2013 at 8:40 AM

So it passed I take it?

gophergirl on October 17, 2013 at 8:33 AM

With help from the Republicans, as usual.

Cleombrotus on October 17, 2013 at 8:40 AM

Meanwhile, McShame being shameless on CNBC right now lambasting the same pork he voted for not 10 hours ago.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:39 AM

They are all liars and frauds. I find myself wondering if this was all another wag the dog to keep the scandals out of the news cycle and to try to marginalize Cruz.

dogsoldier on October 17, 2013 at 8:42 AM

Ashley Judd withdrew from the Kentucky Senate race too soon. If the final race was her v McConnell and I lived there, I’d vote for her.

I said in 2010 the Republicans were insane keeping him as the “face” of a Republican Senate. As Al Pacino said in “Scarface” : “Well, just look at you now!” after he blew the guy’s head off.

Marcus on October 17, 2013 at 8:44 AM

The other burning question is are they going to get rid of that ludicrous House Resolution 368 rule change the Republicans snuck in when they thought nobody was watching?

Dave Rywall on October 17, 2013 at 8:46 AM

Don’t worry – MiniCave and his allies-of-convenience in the Presstitute Organs will create an Akin out of thin air if he loses in the primary.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 8:38 AM

I sincerely hope Tea Partiers and conservatives can mobilize one more time to try to defeat as many of these sellouts as possible in the 2014 primaries. As p-ssed as I am at the GOP, I’m willing to stick around for one more election cycle if only to try to take out Cornyn here in Texas in favor of another Ted Cruz-style candidate.

I know I’m putting lipstick on a pig here, but if there’s one silver lining in all of this, it’s that Boehner actually did allow the government to be shut down(well, 15% of it anyway) for over 2 weeks. We couldn’t even get that far previously. And if we manage to run guys like Grahamnesty, Cornyn, Alexander, and especially McConnell out of town next year, even closet progressives like McCain will start to think twice before running their mouths about the “wacko birds” in their party.

Doughboy on October 17, 2013 at 8:47 AM

thanks for the additional info, Ed.

It still stinks; but now I am slightly less apoplectic.

G. Charles on October 17, 2013 at 8:47 AM

How can Ed seriously assert these sweeping denials without addressing the frank opinion of the foremost Constitutional law attorney on the subject?

YouTube Mark Levin: The president has already seized core authority from the Congress, in particular the House of Representatives. In addition to Obama’s previous acts against the constitution—this current act is a most dangerous and destructive assault on the constitution.

Clearly Congress has a say in the debt and can authorize the debt. There is nothing in the constitution that empowers the Executive Branch to take on that authority. Without this function in the hands of Congress, it ceases to be the People’s body of Government. Article I, Section 8, Clause 2 empowers Congress—and only Congress—”To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;” The President has NO POWER to borrow on the credit of the United States. Nor can any President usurp this core Congressional authority. The 14th amendment doesn’t change this power of Congress as Obama asserts.

Not only can the President not exercise this power of the purse, but even by threatening to default the nation, threatening to violate his oath, by constantly talking about how the nation is going to go into default, threats on how the economy is going to shut down — the President is in effect seizing the power of the Congress—and seizing it right in front of our faces. The media outlets—including Fox—seem to be missing this important point.

If Congress agrees to the President’s demands, and gives him a large percentage of whatever Obama is asking for under threat of forcing this country into default under violation of his oath of office— Obama will have succeeded in neutering Congress and instituting a coup. It is Obama who is holding the nation ransom. If this is not a coup, than what the hell is?

Terp Mole on October 17, 2013 at 8:47 AM

I’d be more interested in whether “the deal” suspended the 22nd Amendment. It’s about time for Barky Ø and the Democrats to try to make the White House his permanent pubic housing.

ExpressoBold on October 17, 2013 at 8:52 AM

I listened to Levin last night, and while he said what TerpMole posted, he also added the caveat about a dozen times, “the only source for this is Politico (so far)…if this is really the case…” Levin was not sure what the language of the bill was and was transparently speculating. Ed is saying it’s not as bad as Politico originally reported.

It still is, of course, an outrageous blight on America. It is not as bad, though, as I originally thought.

G. Charles on October 17, 2013 at 8:55 AM

And the gop Speaker gets a STANDING OVATION? For enabling the President AGAIN?

I feel like I’ve awakened in an alternate United States where superpower suicide is the new norm.

http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/58615

Mark Levin called the act giving Obama total control of the purse strings what it really is on his radio show last night. Levin called it what it is: “a coup”.

Levin explained in plain English how Obama holds the nation at ransom in order to seize the power of the purse from Congress. What Obama did is a first, because it absolutely guts the Constitution. Other players throughout history who have pulled palace coups in democratic societies have been led away from the corridors of power in handcuffs, and worse.

Levin explains that Obama has absolutely no constitutional power in pulling off this high-handed coup because the power of the purse was explicitly given to the peoples’ House of Representatives in the Constitution.

Levin describes how Obama doesn’t actually have to raise the debt ceiling himself in order to get what he wants. “If his ransom demands (threat of default) are met by the Congress and he gets everything he wants, which is a clean CR and a clean debt ceiling with no ‘partisan’ strings, then he will have effectively stolen the power of the purse from Congress. All he’ll have to do is threaten default or some other calamity in the future and Congress will have to bend to his will.”

And, through Marxist means, that’s exactly what Barack Obama did in
getting his way today.

God help America when even the American Constitution cannot help *prevent an ill-intentioned president from robbing it of its birthrights.

*and a majority of the American people let him get away with it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpkQnd07cKU

PappyD61 on October 17, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Levin is the best, imo, of all the hosts/pundits. As a professional, he prefaced and concluded his remarks with the caveat that the Politico report, while plausible, was not yet confirmed.

G. Charles on October 17, 2013 at 9:06 AM

The executive cannot spend what is not appropriated by Congress, except for statutory spending — entitlements — and interest payments on the debt.


The Executive also is not entitled by the Constitution to amend, delay, or otherwise “adjust” the laws passed by Congress; that is the Legislative function. Yet, as regards the PPACA, DOMA, and Executive Orders by the thousands, here we are with the Executive making law just as any other tin pot dictator.
.
Somebody who knows, tell me, can I be a citizen of both the Cayman Islands and the USofA?

ExpressoBold on October 17, 2013 at 9:07 AM

G. Charles: Ed is saying asserting [that] it’s not as bad as Politico originally reported.

Sorry, not buying this: “After February 7th, the normal order returns, and Congress has to raise debt ceilings again.” Where’s the guarantee Obama doesn’t do a repeat performance?

I’ll wait to hear more from Levin on this before taking Ed’s grain of salt about this coup being “temporary.”

Terp Mole on October 17, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Also from Kerry:

Language in a draft of the McConnell-Reid deal (see page 13, section 123) provided to WFPL News shows a provision that increases funding for the massive Olmsted Dam Lock in Louisville from $775 million to nearly $2. 9 billion.
The dam is considered an important project for the state and region in regards to water traffic along the Ohio River.
As The Courier-Journal’s James Bruggers reported in 2011, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said they needed about $2.1 billion for the locks due to “stop and go funding.”

Can.I.be.in.the.middle on October 17, 2013 at 9:11 AM

While the President does not literally control spending and debt limit increases, because of this capitulation, the congress has become in effect a rubber stamp for a president that is indeed setting his own spending limits. Additionally, this President behaves as though he has a line item veto deciding which laws or parts of laws he will enforce in which ones he will not enforce. Neither of these are powers that are provided to him by law or are enumerated in the constitution.
This President is “ruling” in an illegal, extra-constitutional way. The congress is powerless to stop him. The only way this matter can be corrected is through Article V on the U.S. constitution, and a convention called by state legislatures.

paulsur on October 17, 2013 at 9:17 AM

Somebody who knows, tell me, can I be a citizen of both the Cayman Islands and the USofA?

ExpressoBold on October 17, 2013 at 9:07 AM

If the Caymans don’t require you to repudiate your American citizenship, yes. Of course, the long arm of the taxman will be reaching out for you until you do repudiate your citizenship, and then you run the risk of never being able to return.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Sorry, not buying this: “After February 7th, the normal order returns, and Congress has to raise debt ceilings again.” Where’s the guarantee Obama doesn’t do a repeat performance?

I’ll wait to hear more from Levin on this before taking Ed’s grain of salt about this coup being “temporary.”

Terp Mole on October 17, 2013 at 9:08 AM

MiniCave McConnell would have to first affirmatively give Teh SCOAMT the authority to do it again in February. The fact that McConnell has earned the nickname MiniCave tells you all you need to know about the “temporary” bit.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 9:31 AM

Guess it’s déjà vu all over again in another 90-120 days.

Karmi on October 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Update: Let me add a couple of more caveats. The executive cannot spend what is not appropriated by Congress, except for statutory spending — entitlements — and interest payments on the debt. This may be a response to threats from credit-rating agencies to lower our credit rating, which might force us to offer higher yields on our bonds and will then require us to make larger interest payments. The debt ceiling doesn’t enable executive-branch spending the same way a credit card does for households, in other words.

This will probably result in The One hiding extra spending on “stimulus”, etc., in the entitlements budget. Consider how much of the spending for “black” programs like the F-117 was hidden in, for instance, the Commerce Department’s budget back in the Seventies. The Commerce Clause being the reason they decided they could legally put it there. What if The One decrees that stimulus spending is necessary from a “humanitarian” standpoint? (See LBJ’s “Great Society”.)

In fact, this encourages The One to “bust the budget”, because the more spending he can pile up before 8 February 2014, the more he can demand from Congress.

Congratulations, “moderates”. You’ve just given a dipsomaniac the keys to a liquor store and a Bugatti Veyron.

(Meanwhile, on the Democrat side, Reid and Company have wide, freaky PeeWee Herman grins and are singing, “Let The Good Times ROLLLLL!!!!!“)

clear ether

eon

eon on October 17, 2013 at 10:17 AM

The debt ceiling doesn’t enable executive-branch spending the same way a credit card does for households, in other words.

So in other words, I get to keep my plan?
They’re not Roberts Rules Ed. Their Barry’s.

onomo on October 17, 2013 at 10:27 AM

I hear that the deal cost about 30 pieces of silver for each vote. And conservative journalist who showed up at the White House got theirs with a bow wrapped around it.

LoganSix on October 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM

We all know Dear Leader follows not only the letter of the law but the spirit as well…….

d1carter on October 17, 2013 at 10:34 AM

We all know Dear Leader follows not only the letter of the law but the spirit as well…….

d1carter on October 17, 2013 at 10:34 AM

If by “follow” you mean “smash into 17,300,000,000,000 pieces”, you would have nailed it.

Steve Eggleston on October 17, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Update: Let me add a couple of more caveats. The executive cannot spend what is not appropriated by Congress, except for statutory spending — entitlements — and interest payments on the debt.

That would be significant it the House had its traditional role in budget negotiations. But there has been no budget since 2008. The Senate has refused to submit one and has instead worked with the president to “run out the clock”, forcing the House to accept only previous spending ratios through continuing resolutions under threat of unpopular government shutdown or default. In other words, the House has been stripped of its power to appropriate funds.

elfman on October 17, 2013 at 10:54 AM

However it would only apply to the next debt ceiling vote.

The administration my not interpret it that way and use it as precedent for emergency borrowing. He will be out of office before the SCOTUS catches up with him.

elfman on October 17, 2013 at 10:56 AM

You know where to put that thumb don’t you President.

MSGTAS on October 17, 2013 at 10:57 AM

The Republicans should effectively put Obama on notice that as of today he is a lame duck President.He has made clear his intransigence and lack of bipartisanship shows no bounds.The GOP should simply obstruct and say Go To Hell, Obama!

redware on October 17, 2013 at 11:28 AM

redware on October 17, 2013 at 11:28 AM

No, they should offer him false compromise. Poisoned pill after poisoned pill after poisoned pill.

astonerii on October 17, 2013 at 12:21 PM

Ed -

Thanks for drilling in to this. As I read the section last night (my email to the Tips address refers) I though that the delegation to the Executive was permanent rather than limited to a single event. So, the situation is bad but not horrifying.

Upstreamer on October 17, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Ed -

Thanks for drilling in to this. As I read the section last night (my email to the Tips address refers) I though that the delegation to the Executive was permanent rather than limited to a single event. So, the situation is bad but not horrifying.

Upstreamer on October 17, 2013 at 12:37 PM

It’s still un-Constitutional, which should be horrifying, especially as it relates to one of the main functions of government that was very specifically assigned by the Constitution to Congress:

Art I, Sec 8:

The Congress shall have Power [...]

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on October 17, 2013 at 12:48 PM

It’s still un-Constitutional, which should be horrifying, especially as it relates to one of the main functions of government that was very specifically assigned by the Constitution to Congress:

Art I, Sec 8:

The Congress shall have Power [...]

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on October 17, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Absolutely, but at least limited to a single (unconstitutional) transaction…..which given this Administration’s lack of respect for Constitutional norms more generally may be considered an improvement.

Upstreamer on October 17, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Yup lsm is focusing on immigration now for Obama

cmsinaz on October 17, 2013 at 8:30 AM

…lecherous sucking maggots!

KOOLAID2 on October 17, 2013 at 10:52 PM

…kick the can!

KOOLAID2 on October 17, 2013 at 11:06 PM