Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is advocating for a “clean” debt ceiling bill with just days to go until the nation hits a projected default deadline, even though a similar measure failed in May.
The legislation counts more than 100 co-sponsors, and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Democratic Caucus Chairman John Larson (Conn.) and Democratic Caucus Vice Chairman Xavier Becerra (Calif.) signed on to a letter from Welch encouraging colleagues to support the measure, according to spokesman Scott Coriell.
The Vermont Democrat’s proposed $2 trillion debt limit increase isn’t tied to a deficit reduction package, making it a non-starter for House Republicans. But Welch said he is nevertheless pressing ahead because “America is now on the doorstep of default.”
Almost two months ago, House Republicans were unified in their opposition against a stand-alone $2.4 trillion debt limit increase that was sponsored by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.). Welch blasted Republicans at the time, calling the measure a “transparently political ploy” because it had no chance of passing. Still, he and 96 other Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
With less than a week until the Tuesday deadline and no clear path toward a debt ceiling and deficit reduction package, Welch maintained that the House should again vote on raising the debt ceiling alone.
“While we fully support continued efforts to reach a bipartisan agreement to significantly reduce the deficit, we believe it is essential to have legislation available for immediate Congressional action that will prevent America’s looming default,” Welch wrote in a letter to colleagues. “Failing to do so will be catastrophic for our economy and for hard working American families, seniors, and businesses.”
A clean debt limit vote is just one alternative that was discussed at the Democrats’ Caucus meeting Wednesday. Clyburn floated the idea that President Barack Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling if Congress fails to do so. Obama has dismissed that approach, but Clyburn told colleagues that the president “ought to veto” any short-term extension, and “next to the veto message ought to be an executive order invoking the 14th Amendment.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.