Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released what he is calling a “contingency plan” for the debt limit negotiations this afternoon. Essentially the plan would grant President Obama exactly what he has been asking for all along: a clean $2.5 trillion debt limit hike. In exchange, Republicans would get three meaningless cover votes disapproving the borrowing authority increase. Here is how McConnell’s office is pitching the plan:
The initial legislation would authorize the President to submit a request to Congress asking to increase the debt limit by $700 billion, and would require submission of a plan to reduce spending by a greater amount.
Upon receipt of the President’s request, the debt limit would be provisionally increased by $100 billion to provide breathing room and avert an August 2nd default.
The House and Senate would have 15 days to disapprove of the request.
Within three days of the President’s request, it would be in order for the House and Senate to introduce a joint resolution disapproving of the President’s request.
Under expedited consideration of the Resolution of Disapproval, the resolution would be placed directly on the Senate calendar; the Motion to Proceed to the resolution would be privileged; there would be 10 hours of debate and passage would require a simple majority.
If either chamber defeats the resolution, the remaining $600 billion increase would be allowed.
If both chambers pass the resolution, it would be sent to the President for a veto or signature.
If vetoed, debate on an override would be limited to one hour.
If the veto is overridden (which would require a 2/3 vote) in both chambers, then the request would be denied and the provisional $100 billion increase revoked.
If the veto is sustained in either chamber, the remaining $600 billion increase would be allowed.
Everything after the first paragraph is pretty irrelevant. The first vote would effectively cede all congressional authority to raise the debt limit to Obama. Yes, Obama would have to submit “a plan to reduce spending” but there is no requirement that that plan be any more substantive than the Obama debt speech that the CBO already said they couldn’t score. Erick Erickson explains why their is nothing contingent about this plan:
Some of the most willfully ignorant and willfully naive McConnell supporters are coming out of the woodwork to say this is not *the* plan, but a contingency plan if *the* plan can’t be agreed to. So let’s get this straight: if Democrats won’t agree to make spending cuts, we’ll fall back to the contingency where they get to raise the debt ceiling without making spending cuts. That’s not a contingency, that’s handing the Democrats a silver platter.