U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) have gone on the record as opposing President Obama's proposal to eliminate the role of Congress in establishing the federal debt limit.
The Mississippi Senators are among 44 Republican Senators who have signed a letter to President Obama that states their strong opposition to his debt limit proposals. The plan to grant sole federal debt limit authority to the executive branch has been floated as part of ongoing negotiations on an agreement to avert automatic budget cuts, the so-called "fiscal cliff," before Jan. 1, 2013.
"Granting any president the sole power over the federal debt limit is clearly not what the Founding Fathers envisioned when they drafted the Constitution. This proposal is an unnecessary distraction from reaching bipartisan solutions to the immediate budget and deficit problems the nation faces today," Cochran said.
"The President's request for permanent authority to raise the debt ceiling is a non-starter in Congress," said Wicker. "A solution to avoid the fiscal cliff will require cooperation from both sides. With 21 days until the end of the year, now is the time to work together rather than spending time posturing."
The letter to Obama cites the use of the debt limit by Congresses in the past to craft deficit-reduction agreements since the mid-1980s. The letter also links the debt limit authority to the constitutional "power of the purse" granted to Congress.
The letter states that nearly every significant deficit reduction law of the past 27 years has been linked to a debt limit debate: "For Congress to surrender its control over the debt limit would be to permanently surrender what has long provided the best opportunity to enact bipartisan deficit reduction legislation."
It goes on to say: "We also believe that Congress' power over borrowing, like the power of the purse, is firmly rooted in our constitutional tradition. The Founders understood the potential danger of permitting the Executive to unilaterally incur new public debt. Consequently, Article I of the Constitution empowers only Congress "to borrow money on the credit of the United States.' The debt ceiling is the means by which Congress exercises this inherent legislative responsibility."