WASHINGTON — The top Republican in the Senate proposed on Tuesday giving President Barack Obama sweeping new power to, in effect, unilaterally increase the nation's debt limit to avoid a first-ever default on U.S. obligations.
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., offered a new to allow the president to demand up to $2.4 trillion in new borrowing authority by the summer of next year in three separate submissions. Those increases in the so-called debt limit would automatically take effect unless both the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic Senate enact legislation specifically disapproving it.
Obama would be able to veto such legislation.
The GOP plan would require that Obama submit spending cuts along with his borrowing requests. But unlike the increase in the debt limit, they wouldn't automatically take effect.
The new mechanism would take the place of the current White House debt negotiations among congressional leaders and Obama. Those talks over spending cuts and tax increases have grown increasingly acrimonious.
McConnell said he reluctantly offered the unusual proposal because it has become clear the negotiations with Obama aren't going anywhere.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he had spoken briefly to McConnell about the idea and said he would consider it.
The sweeping new power would only be in effect through the remainder of Obama's term.
McConnell's plan would permit an immediate increase in the debt limit of $100 billion while Congress debates whether to disapprove of it.
Associated Press writers Ben Feller, Julie Pace and Erica Werner contributed to this report.