The White House has said that President Joe Biden wouldn’t negotiate over conditions for raising the national debt ceiling, but “I have news for him,” Sen. Rand Paul said, “He absolutely will negotiate.”
Paul, R-Ky., joined five other Republican senators at a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday to address America’s debt ceiling and the need for fiscal restraint in Congress.
The Republican “majority in the House will not vote to raise the debt ceiling without significant budget reform,” Paul said. “The greatest threat to our country, and the greatest threat to our national security, is the debt.”
America reached its debt limit of $31.4 trillion on Jan. 19. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says special measures are being taken to prevent defaulting on the debt, but lawmakers need to reach an agreement by early June.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters last week that raising the debt ceiling is “something that should be done without conditions,” and she added that the White House is “not going to be negotiating over the debt ceiling.”
Paul said Congress has an opportunity right now to take significant steps toward balancing the budget, explaining that “it would take compromise between both parties.”
“Republicans would have to give up the sacred [cow] that says we will never touch a dollar in military [spending], and the Democrats would have to give up the sacred cow [that] they will never touch a dollar in welfare.”
The best way to balance the budget, according to Paul, is to “make the cuts across the board,” because it’s “a responsible thing to do. But President Biden needs to know that absolutely, he will negotiate, and it’s better to start now.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, made it clear that Republicans are open to raising the debt ceiling, but are willing to “use the debt ceiling as leverage to force real and meaningful structural reforms” to congressional spending.
Cruz criticized Biden, saying the president’s refusal to negotiate is the same as Biden saying, “I don’t care that there’s a Republican majority [in the House]. I don’t care that we’re bankrupting the country. I don’t care that there’s inflation ravaging this country. I, Joe Biden, will negotiate nothing. To hell with you. Let’s default.”
“That’s Joe Biden’s position,” the Texas lawmaker said.
Cruz stressed that America will not default on its debt, and blamed Biden for even suggesting that was a possibility.
“There is one principal person in this town that is talking about a default of the debt, and that is Joe Biden,” Cruz said. “Joe Biden wants to threaten a default on the debt. He wants to scare the markets. And frankly, he’s counting on y’all,” Cruz said addressing the room of about 40 reporters, “He’s counting on the press corps just to repeat his talking points. He’s counting on the press corps just to say, ‘Those crazy Republicans want a default on the debt.’ That is false.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also spoke to reporters about the debt ceiling shortly before the GOP senators began their press briefing. Republicans need to present a plan to address the debt ceiling because “we have a plan,” Schumer said of Democrats, adding, “Pass the debt ceiling without hostage-taking, without any brinksmanship.”
Earlier this week, House Democrats proposed a bill that would do away with the debt ceiling altogether and allow Congress to borrow the money it needed to pay its bills. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., and cosponsored by 42 fellow House Democrats.
Because Republicans control the majority in the House, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said House Republicans are “in the driver’s seat” to pass legislation to rein in spending.
Johnson and the other Senate Republicans present—including Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, Rick Scott of Florida, and Mike Braun of Indiana—expressed their support for House Republicans in anticipation of coming negotiations over the budget and the debt ceiling.
Lee said too often the decisions made over the debt ceiling end up harming the American people and place the interests of Washington elites above those of the rest of the nation.
“America’s poor and middle class have been ravaged by this pattern and practice of abuse, one that enriches a small handful of elites at the cost of everyone else,” the Utah lawmaker said.
The Heritage Foundation’s senior adviser on budget policy, Matthew Dickerson, told The Daily Signal that “Sen. Lee was right when he said the debate about the debt ceiling and out-of-control government spending pits Washington, D.C., and Wall Street against everyone else.” (The Daily Signal is the news outlet of The Heritage Foundation.)
“The debt limit is an indispensable tool that protects the American people—yet the Left’s response to hitting the $31.4 trillion debt limit is to propose repealing it and keep spending high and the printing presses running,” Dickerson said. “Instead, responsible lawmakers should come together, as they have in the past, and pair an increase in the debt limit with equivalent reductions in spending, reforms, and pro-growth policies that put the country back on track.”
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