Amid talk that President Obama should circumvent Congress by issuing an executive order to raise the debt limit, two Republican lawmakers are taking steps to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John Cornyn of Texas introduced Thursday a Sense of the Senate resolution to send a message to the White House that unilaterally raising the debt limit goes beyond the scope of the president’s authority. (O’s OFFER: Obama puts entitlement reform on the table)
“Every time the debt ceiling has been raised it has been through an act of collaboration between the President and Congress,” said Graham in a statement.
“We have a President, not a King,” he added. “Our resolution puts the Senate on record that any debt-limit increase, today or in the future, should be passed by Congress and signed by the President.”
Cornyn called the idea “unacceptable,” and the “the latest attempt by big-spending Democrats to short-circuit the Constitution to avoid making tough budget choices.”
In a Twitter town hall Wednesday, President Obama downplayed the idea of using the power of the presidency to instruct the Treasury Department to raise the debt limit. “I don’t think we should even get to the Constitutional issue,” said Obama. “Congress has the responsibility to make sure we pay our bills.”
Despite that, news surfaced early Thursday that the Treasury Department is secretly weighing their options for avoiding default, should the president and Congress fail to reach an agreement.
One of the options being considered, as reported by Reuters, is whether the Constitution gives the president the authority to act alone and approve the issuing of debt after the deadline of August 2. The constitutional question centers around a line in the 14th Amendment that says the country’s public debt “shall not be questioned.”
“Sense of the Senate” resolutions are not binding law. Instead, they are intended to express the official opinion of the Senate on a given issue.