WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Democratic leaders in the U.S. Senate have called on President Barack Obama to bypass Congress should lawmakers fail to agree to raise the debt ceiling.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other leaders sent a letter to Obama Friday, encouraging him to "take any lawful steps" to raising the nation's $16.4 trillion debt ceiling "without Congressional approval, if necessary."
The letter -- which urged Obama to act unilaterally "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 unbalanced or unreasonable legislation" -- served as a warning to Republicans who have been resisting raising the debt ceiling, The Washington Post reported.
Republicans called the Democrats' proposal irresponsible, The Hill reported.
"Senate Democrats cannot ignore their responsibilities for political convenience -- and the American people will not tolerate an increase in the debt limit without spending cuts and reforms," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. "Out-of-control Washington spending is costing jobs now, and condemning future generations of Americans to a lower standard of living. Washington Democrats must stop spending money we don't have."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said, "The Democrat leadership hiding under their desks and hoping the President will find a way around the law on the nation's maxed-out credit card is not only the height of irresponsibility, but also a guarantee that our national debt crisis will only get worse."