HONOLULU -- President Obama will delay informing Congress of his intention to raise the debt limit, after congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle asked for him to wait to give Congress a chance to come back into session.
Bicameral leaders asked for the delay, because when the president formally informs them of the increase, it starts a 15-day clock for Congress to reject it. The catch: Members are not expected to return to Washington in this time frame; the House returns from vacation on Jan. 17 and the Senate returns on Jan. 23. According to White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, “The administration is in discussions with leaders in both houses to determine the best timing for submission of the certification and any subsequent votes in the two houses.”
It is expected that the House of Representatives will want to vote on a resolution of disapproval of the debt limit increase, but that this would not pass in the Senate -- and the increase would happen as expected.
On Tuesday, the Treasury Department announced that by today, the country would be within $100 billion of the debt ceiling. This requires the president to send a “letter of certification” to Congress to trigger raising the limit by $1.2 trillion.
The process was laid out in this summer's Budget Control Act, the compromise law that allowed the debt limit to be increased after a bitter bipartisan battle.
Delaying the debt limit increase by a few days is not expected to affect the country’s credit rating, according to a senior White House official.
The Treasury Department believes that without using “some extraordinary measures,” the debt ceiling will be reached during the first week of Jan. 2012. However, the measures they will employ will buy Congress some time to respond to the probable debt limit increase.