What purpose is served by Congress spending time on debt ceiling legislation? Congress concerned about the rapidly rising debt in 1917 set a ceiling that then had to be raised in 1918 and 1919 to accommodate World War I debt of $27.8 billion. Congress has raised the debt ceiling 74 times since 1962.

After 100 years of wasted legislative effort, Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., could do the country a service by introducing a repeal of all debt limit laws. The only way to fiscal responsibility is a Constitution that requires it.

This country was born with Revolutionary War debt of $77 million. The founding fathers (George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison) all counseled that debt should only be for unavoidable wars so that we can pass on to posterity the opportunity for the prosperity that we enjoyed.

Jefferson said, "No generation has the right to pass on its debts to future generations." Early Congresses followed this principle and by 1835, for a few brief months, this country was debt free. The Civil War ended with a debt of $2.8 billion, which was reduced to $1.5 billion by 1893. We entered World War I with a debt of $ 3 billion, ended with $27.8 billion, which was reduced to $16.2 billion by 1930. This was the last time any effort was made to pay off the debt.

In 1994 Sen. Byron Dorgan said he was voting for a Constitutional Balanced Budget Amendment because "We cannot forever be mortgaging our children and grandchildren's future." Here we are 23 years later and anyone old enough to vote in 1980 is handing over a $19 trillion mortgage for government operations of 1980-2017 that we were unwilling to pay for. We should be ashamed that we are allowing this to continue.

Kelly Carlson, Bismarck