April 26, 2023

ICYMI: House Democrats Across the Caucus Call for Congress to Reject Republican Debt Ceiling Demands and Avoid Economic Default

Boyle, Jayapal, and Kuster

Today, Budget Committee Ranking Member Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and New Democrat Coalition Chair Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined together to demand a clean debt ceiling increase. Boyle, Jayapal, and Kuster led a letter to House Republican leadership, with nearly 200 signatories, calling on Republicans to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by lifting the debt ceiling without any extraneous policies attached. 

You can read the transcript from today’s press conference below and find a full video here

Budget Committee Ranking Member Boyle: “Good morning. It's wonderful to be here, and I'm proud to stand alongside two very good friends of mine and colleagues: Representative Pramila Jayapal, the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Representative Annie Kuster, the chair of the New Democrat Coalition. 

“The three of us are proud to announce, along with nearly 200 of our House Democratic colleagues, we are releasing a letter calling on Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans to end their threat of default. 

“Now, before I go into the specifics, I want to address one thing: Republicans like to claim they are being fiscally responsible. But let's be clear, there never has been and never will be anything fiscally responsible about refusing to pay America's bills. Killing millions of jobs is not fiscally responsible, neither is knowingly unleashing a recession. 

“So we Democrats stand united across the ideological spectrum of our caucus, from some of the most progressive members to some of the most moderate members and everything in between. To stand up and say, let us actually do our work. Let us actually do the responsible thing and ensure that we pay our bills. 

“It is rather interesting. I can't help but observe that one of the best ways you can tell that there is a Democrat in the White House is when Republicans suddenly start talking about the deficit and debt. “They forget about this issue, mind you, whenever there's a Republican in the White House. There's George W. Bush, Donald Trump. They had no problem raising the debt ceiling. You didn't hear a peep out of them about this issue. But anytime there's a Democrat in the White House, they go off on this gambit – no matter how many previous times, it has failed for them. 

“Just recently, when Donald Trump was President, Congress voted three times to raise the debt ceiling, twice under Congressional Republican control and once under Congressional Democratic control. Those three increases in the debt ceiling included zero spending cuts, and Republicans had no problem whatsoever voting for them. So what they are doing today on the House floor with their DOA Act, the Default on America Act. Fortunately, that bill will be dead on arrival (DOA). And I'm quite confident not signed into law. That doesn't get us any closer to resolving the situation. 

“The ‘X date,’ the date by which America must absolutely pay its bills, is drawing closer. In fact, perhaps even closer than was originally thought in January. So, it's time once and for all, for Speaker Kevin McCarthy to end this reckless brinkmanship. Join with us as he has in the past – the recent past – and fulfill our obligation as America has for 247 years. Let us ensure that we pay America's bills. 

“There is too much riding on failure. And with that, I am happy to bring up my good friend, the Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Pramila Jayapal.”

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Jayapal: “Thank you. I am proud to stand here with Representative Boyle, Ranking Member of the Budget Committee, and Representative Kuster, Chair of the New Democrat Coalition, and nearly 200 of our House Democratic colleagues as signatories to this letter. By refusing to pass a clean debt ceiling bill, Speaker McCarthy has thrown a grenade threatening the American and global economy. We are here to demand that Speaker McCarthy put the pin back in the grenade, remember his constitutional duty to and allow America to put a clean bill on the floor to lift the debt ceiling, not the Default on America Act that would cause a recession, threaten jobs and hurt seniors, veterans and working and poor people across America. Simply put, it is DOA for the American people. 

“If the United States defaults, the consequences are dire: America could plunge into a recession and 7 million people could lose their jobs. Seniors and people with disabilities would miss social security payments that they desperately need. Small businesses wouldn’t get their loans. Families won’t be able to get child care because child care workers wouldn’t get paid. Veterans would be robbed of health care. Interest rates would skyrocket, leading to higher credit card bills and mortgage payments. Families would lose up to $10 trillion in household wealth and their retirement accounts.

“Let’s be clear: Republicans have suddenly decided they have a problem with raising the debt ceiling under a Democratic president, but under Trump they did so 3 times — without preconditions — then turned around and raised the deficit by $2 trillion with their 2017 tax scam that gave 80% of the benefits to the top 1%.  

“Now, Speaker McCarthy wants to destroy the economic security of working families.  The chaos of the extreme MAGA Republicans will spread chaos to every single one of our homes if they have their way.

“Working people are still being squeezed by the cost of living. They should not be forced to pay for the consequences of MAGA extremists out of their own pockets.

“Conversations about government spending have a time and place — during the annual appropriations cycle. That’s fair game and Republicans are welcome to negotiate during the regular budget process, just as both parties have every year. But let’s remember why they haven’t gotten these demands through before: because they are so extreme, cruel and unworkable that not even moderate Republicans will vote for them!  Who wants to tell their constituents they’ve kicked 1.7 million women and children off nutrition assistance, or 600,000 people off health care, or seniors off Social Security and Medicare, or people with disabilities off  Medicaid? Cruel. Extreme. Unworkable. It’s hostage taking of the American people to pass an agenda that they couldn’t pass through the regular budget process.

“That’s why Democrats are standing together today across the ideological spectrum in solid opposition to this extreme Republican agenda. 

“Which brings us to our next speaker and co-lead on this letter, New Democrats Chair Representative Annie Kuster.

New Democrat Coalition Chair Kuster: “Thank you, Brendan, and thank you for Pramila. Good morning, everyone. 

“As you can see, across the House Democratic Caucus, we are united in calling on House Republican leadership to stop playing games with our nation's debt and to join Democrats in passing a clean debt ceiling increase. 

“Defaulting on our nation's debt would be catastrophic, not only for our economy, but for global financial markets, and for millions of Americans whose Social Security and Medicare benefits would be impacted. 

“As you've heard, a default would mean jobs would simply disappear. Retirement savings would evaporate. Housing costs would rise. Veterans would lose access to critical care, and every day costs will go up. 

“And let me explain to you in my district in New Hampshire, the second district, homeowners could see the cost of their monthly mortgage payments go up by $200. We already have very high housing costs in New Hampshire. 7200 jobs could be lost. Over 96,000 households would be at risk of losing their Social Security check. And this isn't unique to my district. This will happen across this country, in Democrat and Republican districts alike. We can not let that happen. 

“Thanks to Democrats’ leadership under President Biden, our economy continues to recover and grow stronger following the twin economic and COVID-19 crises. In fact, President Biden and Democrats have already cut our deficit by historic levels when we passed and he signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act. The President's budget, that he has proposed, will reduce the deficit by $3 trillion over the next 10 years – that's deficit reduction. 

“On the other hand, Republicans claim that their proposal will reduce the deficit. But in reality, the policies in the GOP plan will actually add to the deficit and the debt. For example, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office previously projected that rescinding parts of the Inflation Reduction Act will actually increase the deficit by $114 billion. The GOP plan would also slash $30 billion from funding for our veterans, meaning fewer health care visits, longer wait times, and more uncertainty for those who protected us and served our nation. 

“We cannot allow Republicans to throw away all the progress that we made under Democratic leadership by defaulting on our nation's debt. As members of Congress, it's our responsibility. We take an oath to defend and protect the full faith and credit of the United States. 

“We all stand here today, representing every corner of our caucus, united behind instituting a clean debt ceiling increase. 

“In addition to discussions about a clean debt ceiling increase, New Dems are willing and eager to discuss our nation's fiscal responsibility in the long term. We must reduce the deficit and make bipartisan reforms to ensure our economic strength and resilience for generations to come. 

“But those two conversations are separate. That's why this Congress, New Dems have formed an Economic Growth and Fiscal Responsibility Policy Task Force to explore long- and short-term, fiscally responsible solutions. 

“We can do both: prevent a default on our debt now and then have bipartisan discussions about advancing smart fiscal policies that set our economy and our country up for success. We hope that Republicans will abandon their extreme and reckless approach and join Democrats in moving forward to strengthen our economy.”