Providing for Consideration of H.R. 3442, Debt Management and Fiscal
Responsibility Act of 2015, and Providing for Consideration of H.R.
Posted on 2016-02-10
MARCHANT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the chairman for yielding to me
and his support on this issue. Also, I thank him for allowing the Rules
Committee to spend over an hour on this issue yesterday to hear both
sides of this issue as far as the debt ceiling goes.
Mr. Speaker, I can't go to a townhall meeting or even go to a gathering of just a few people without the subject of the debt ceiling coming up. My constituents on a regular basis, through emails, phone calls, and letters, ask me the questions: What is Congress doing about addressing the debt ceiling? Why do you lurch from year to year to year about the debt ceiling? Why don't you ever look at the debt ceiling in a comprehensive manner? The debt is too high. When I introduced this bill in September, the debt had reached $18.1 trillion. Today, it is over $19 trillion. If the current law remains unchanged, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the Federal debt held by the public will exceed 100 percent of our GDP in 25 years, and this is unsustainable.
The window to get a handle on the Nation's debt is closing very quickly. We need to enact solutions to retire the debt before it is too late. That is what the Debt Management and Fiscal Responsibility Act is all about.
This bill creates a new debt limit framework that places greater attention on finding debt reduction solutions. It does so by injecting transparency, accountability, and timeliness into the debt limit process. The bill would allow Congress and the administration to take comprehensive assessments of the debt and its drivers well before the statutory debt limit is reached.
Each year since I have been in Congress, I can pick up the newspaper one day and find that the Secretary of the Treasury announces that we have reached our statutory debt limit and usually proclaims a date. In this case, the statutory debt limit will be reached next March of 2017. At that point, everybody seems to go about their business. There is no particular action taken.
In fact, last month after that proclamation was made that we had reached our statutory debt ceiling, 7 months went by without us reaching the debt ceiling. How did that happen? Well, it happened because the Secretary of the Treasury has the ability to implement extraordinary measures. Now, if any committees in the Congress should know what those extraordinary measures that he is using are going to be or are, it is the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
So this bill very simply lays out a framework where, before the debt ceiling is reached--and the Secretary of Treasury knows that--he has a framework of up to 60 days to come and appear before the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, which could be a joint meeting, and lay out for us when the debt ceiling will be reached--not after we have reached the debt ceiling, but before we have reached the debt ceiling--what extraordinary measures he will take once we have reached that debt ceiling and when, in fact, he thinks we will actually run out of money.
In that report, he will actually then lay out the administration's plan on addressing that debt in the short term, in the midterm, and in the future. So it is a very commonsense plan. It involves one very specific meeting with these two jurisdictional committees with the Secretary of the Treasury. The whole focal point of that meeting will be to talk about the debt ceiling. That does not happen now.
We have dozens of reports that are online. We have dozens of discussions besides this, but never statutorily is the Secretary of the Treasury and the two jurisdictional committees required to meet and discuss this. This is the great thing about this bill, the implementation of this bill.
Like so many Americans, my constituents have watched with great concern as the debt has skyrocketed.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Tipton). The time of the gentleman has expired.