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Congressman Scott Peters

Representing the 52nd District of California

Reps. Peters, Arrington Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Reform Debt Limit Dance that Threatens U.S. Economy

Dec 7, 2021
Press Release
The Responsible Budgeting Act would tackle risky debt ceiling brinksmanship while enhancing Congressional focus on fiscal responsibility

WASHINGTON, DC – Last Friday, Reps. Scott Peters (CA-52) and Jodey Arrington (TX-19) introduced H.R. 6139, the Responsible Budgeting Act, to reform how Congress tackles the national debt limit and avoid the political theater that threatens the national economy. A recent report by the Bipartisan Policy Center predicts that sometime between December 21, 2021 and January 28, 2022, the United States will be unable to meet its financial obligations in full and on time. As the nation faces a potential default on the debt as soon as mid-December, the members’ bipartisan proposal is designed to prevent future brinksmanship on the debt ceiling and would also promote greater fiscal responsibility.

“Failing to extend the debt limit can have catastrophic consequences, and we must stop playing politics with the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. These games, however, are a symptom of a bigger problem: Congress currently doesn’t have a bipartisan way to deal with our national debt,” said Rep. Peters. “This bill will eliminate the dangerous threats of the debt limit while putting us on a path towards greater fiscal health. If we can tackle the brinksmanship associated with the debt ceiling and improve Congress’ approach to budgeting, we can ensure a stronger, more stable economic future. I’m pleased to join my friend Rep. Arrington to lead this important effort.”

“The biggest threat to our nation’s prosperity and security is our unsustainable national debt. The congressional budget process is fundamentally broken with little to no accountability nor fiscal responsibility for both parties,” said Rep. Arrington. “I am proud to join my friend, Rep. Scott Peters, in introducing legislation that would help dispense with the current debt ceiling dysfunction and incentivize Congress to act responsibly with taxpayer resources and the fiscal future of the nation.”

The Peters, Arrington plan would offer two options for Congress to address the debt limit. The first is to pass a budget resolution that satisfies specific debt reduction measures while simultaneously passing a joint resolution the president can sign to suspend the debt limit until the next fiscal year. If Congress fails to pass this concurrent budget resolution, the second option allows the president to suspend the debt ceiling himself via a written request, which Congress could vote to override within 30 days of its submission. This suspension request must be submitted along with a debt reduction proposal to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio that Congress must consider.

The bipartisan bill is supported by a number of organizations, experts and former policymakers:

Bill Hoagland, Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center: "For the past decade, we at BPC have highlighted the costs and risks associated with the federal debt limit. The Responsible Budgeting Act would ensure the debt limit never threatens our economy again, and at the same time, would provide an opportunity for substantive legislative debate over proposals to restore fiscal responsibility. This type of well-crafted bipartisan solution is a model for how we should tackle our economic challenges together."

Maya MacGuineas, President, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “The Responsible Budgeting Act would effectively nudge lawmakers to make needed fiscal reforms, while lessening the dangerous default scenario that we too often flirt with. It is important to build in speed bumps in the budget process so we can regularly assess if we are on a smart fiscal path. But those speed bumps should encourage smart reforms rather than leave the U.S. vulnerable to the massive damage default could cause. We applaud Representatives Arrington and Peters for reaching this smart bipartisan compromise to reform the debt ceiling.”

Former U.S. Senator Kent Conrad, former Chairman, Senate Budget Committee: "The dangerous debt limit dance has gone on for too long. What was once a useful focal point for bipartisan negotiations has become a threat to our economic well-being. The Responsible Budgeting Act is a carefully crafted and politically realistic way to remove that risk. It deserves support from Democrats and Republicans alike."

Former U.S. Congressman Dave Camp, former Chairman, House Ways & Means Committee: “Our nation must address its significant and growing deficits and debt, however, we must also ensure that the U.S. Government makes good on the debts it has already incurred.  The Responsible Budgeting Act will force the Administration and Congress to confront the pending debt crisis while also ensuring the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.”

Former Congressman John Delaney: "Brinksmanship around the debt limit is irresponsible. There should never be any question about whether the U.S. will pay its debts. This legislation provides an off-ramp from that threat of self-inflicted economic damage to our country while at the same time ensuring that we’re focusing on reducing our debt-to-GDP ratio in the long run. That’s the responsible way forward."

Ben Ritz, Director, Progressive Policy Institute's Center for Funding America's Future: "Debt limit brinkmanship, which is like refusing to pay our credit card bill after we've already incurred the charges, can never fix our unsustainable fiscal policy. The Responsible Budgeting Act would put in place a far more rational process for addressing the underlying causes of our long-term fiscal challenges without the threat of a catastrophic debt default."

A more detailed summary of the bill can be found HERE.