House majority leader: Democrats might pursue providing Treasury secretary power to raise debt limit

The short-term debt limit extension runs through Dec. 3.
House Majority Leader Hoyer
House Majority Leader Hoyer
(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Tuesday that Democrats will pursue providing Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen the power to unilaterally raise debt limit as needed in advance of the upcoming deadline.

The short-term debt limit extension that Congress passed runs through Dec. 3.

"So one of the options, though, that I think should have some viability because it's a suggestion Senator McConnell made some years ago and that is to simply allow the Secretary of Treasury to increase the limit or extend the date and then the House would have 30 days in which they could act or some days in which to act to overturn the secretary's determination," Hoyer told reporters during a briefing.

"I think Senator McConnell's premise was the House and Senate, either body, would not do that; you'd have to have both bodies do it. And so I think that may well be a viable proposal made by Senator McConnell. Now of course, the fact that he made that does not mean he would support it, which is sad," he added.

Hoyer said he personally prefers eliminating the debt limit altogether.

"I would like to eliminate it. That would be my druthers. I think the debt limit is a phony issue," he said.

Hoyer predicted that the House "could pass in a vacuum the elimination of the debt limit" but it probably wouldn't pass the Senate.

He called the proposal to provide debt limit authority to the Treasury secretary as the "more viable option," compared to eliminating the debt ceiling.

"I want to consider one or the other of those bills in the near term," he said.