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Schatz, Coons, Bennet Introduce Legislation To Repeal Debt Ceiling

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Chris Coons (D-Del.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) introduced legislation to repeal the national debt ceiling, an arbitrary limit set by Congress on the amount of funding that the United States Treasury may borrow.

“Paying our debts should be an automatic act, not a politicized weapon used for leverage,” said Senator Schatz. “It’s clear that the debt ceiling is not about fiscal responsibility, but about unnecessary brinksmanship. Congress has the chance to debate federal spending, and it’s well before the bill comes due. It’s time to stop these attempts to govern through threats and defuse the bomb by eliminating the debt ceiling altogether.”

“The time has come for Congress to eliminate the debt ceiling. Debt limit showdowns have become far too routine, and it's now considered almost normal to threaten default. That must change,” said Senator Coons. “We need to address our national debt in a sensible, bipartisan way, but continuing to use the threat of catastrophic default as the primary tool for deficit reduction is not leadership, it’s playing politics with the reputation of the U.S. government and household wealth of Americans.”

“Eliminating the debt limit would be a constructive step toward refocusing the priorities of Congress away from partisan squabbles and onto real challenges that people sent us here to address—like the fiscal health of our government,” said Senator Bennet. “This is an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to work together to prevent manufactured crises and lift the threat of default off our economy for good.”

In practice, the debt limit has no impact on government spending, which is authorized and approved through the federal budget and appropriations process. Instead, the ceiling restricts the U.S. Treasury from paying for expenditures already made by Congress. This disconnected process consistently requires Congress to raise the ceiling before it is reached, a politicized procedure that often leads to threats of defaulting on the government’s obligation to pay its bills, leading to potential financial disruptions that would cause massive damage on Main Streets across the country.

The United States is one of only two democratic countries with a statutory debt ceiling, and the only one that could single-handedly cause a global recession. Since 1960, Congress has acted more than 75 separate times to raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit. In 2011, the crisis surrounding raising the debt ceiling led credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s to downgrade the U.S. government’s credit rating for the first time ever.