Harry Reid Tells Obama He Must Act on Debt Ceiling Without Congressional Approval, if Necessary

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. walks out of the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, following the counting of Electoral College votes. Credit: AP

With the upcoming debt ceiling showdown approaching, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and some of his Democratic colleagues are urging President Barack Obama to go around Congress to increase the nation’s debt limit if no agreement is reached.

In an open letter to Obama on Friday, Reid and others argued that failing to increase the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling could harm the full faith and credit of the United States, Politico reported.

Reid, along with Sens. Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer and Patty Murray, told Obama not to let Republicans take the country “hostage.”

“In the event that Republicans make good on their threat by failing to act, or by moving unilaterally to pass a debt limit extension only as part of an unbalanced or unreasonable legislation, we believe you must be willing to take any lawful steps to ensure that America does not break its promises and trigger a global economic crisis — without congressional approval, if necessary,” the letter states.

As NRO’s Charles C. W. Cooke points out, “It should go without saying that not only does Harry Reid not have the power to grant the executive branch permission to bypass the legislature, but neither does Congress.”

“Short of Congress’s abolishing the debt ceiling and making it clear in that legislation that the president has the authority to deal with borrowing henceforth — this it could do — no letter written by anybody on any subject can change the fact that current law requires congressional action if the debt ceiling is to be raised,” he wrote.

Meanwhile, not all Republican lawmakers are convinced that continuously raising the nation’s debt limit is solution to Washington’s financial problems.

In a statement Thursday, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee said the “fact that we continue hitting the debt ceiling is a symptom of Washington’s spending problem, and hitting the debt ceiling does not immediately trigger a default.”

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