Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said recently that the Obama administration supports extending the “McConnell Provision” in regards to dealing with the debt ceiling debate on Capitol Hill.
Essentially, under the rule initially proposed by Senator Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, during 2011’s debt ceiling debate, Congress would have 15 days to reject the president’s proposal to raise the debt ceiling.
However, if both the House and the Senate vote down the president’s proposal, the president can override the Congress and raise the debt limit. The Congress can, though, override the president’s veto to hike the debt limit by a 2/3 vote in each chamber.
“We made a very sensible suggestion, and let me describe what that is. What we propose to them is they extend what’s called the McConnell provision. This was a solution Senator McConnell offered last summer, which was enacted — summer of 2011 — which was enacted into law, supported by Republicans. And the way that works is the President would have the obligation periodically of requesting an increase in the debt limit, and then Congress would have the chance, then, to express its views on the merits of that proposal by disapproving that.”
“And then the President would have to decide, if a bill came to his desk, about whether to veto that or sign it. Of course, he’d veto it in that context. And the virtue of that mechanism proposed by Senator McConnell, a man of impeccable conservative credentials, is to make sure that the country is not left at risk of periodic threats of default. It’s a very good idea. It was a Republican idea. And we’re suggesting they extend it.”
I spoke with Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Maryland Democrat, on Wednesday who doesn’t see giving the president veto power to override the Congress to be a problem saying, “This is for Congress to pay bills we already voted to pay for.”
Don Stewart, spokesman for Sen. McConnell, scoffed at the idea, saying that the administration has “amnesia” when it came to the provision that was named after the minority leader.
“While we’re certainly flattered that the administration praised one piece of the Budget Control Act, they seem to have amnesia on the rest of the plan,” said Stewart on Wednesday.
Stewart then added, “Namely, the debt ceiling was raised last year only after the White House agreed to at least $2 TRILLION in cuts to Washington spending, and agreed to be bound by the timing and amount set by Congress—not his own whim. The President wants to have the ability to raise the debt ceiling whenever he wants, for as much as he wants, with no responsibility or spending cuts attached. This is an idea opposed by Democrats and Republicans alike; it’s a power grab that has no support here.”