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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On Republicans Threatening Default Brinkmanship To Lay Out What Critical Programs They Plan To Cut

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on Republicans taking a reckless approach to the debt ceiling and calling on them to lay out their plan to cut critical programs. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

As debate over raising the debt ceiling continues, Leader McConnell said something yesterday that I think is right on the mark: he said that when it comes to moving a debt ceiling proposal through Congress, the House should go first.

He is correct—and not only should the House go first, but they must quickly show the American people what their plan actually is for avoiding a first-ever default on the national debt.

So far, we haven’t heard anything beyond vague and troubling talking points about the need to cut federal spending. That’s not going to fly when you are in the majority, as Speaker McCarthy, of course, is. The substance and details make all the difference.

The debt ceiling is not some political game, and Speaker McCarthy has an obligation to level with the American people on what precisely the new House plans to do in order to avoid a default.

Now, President Biden and the Speaker have reportedly agreed to sit down in the near future on this topic, and the Speaker is apparently heralding this development as some sort of big win or concession.

But look, Speaker McCarthy sitting down without a clear plan is no win. Sitting down to talk about the debt ceiling without a plan is like coming to the table with no cards. 

President Biden, meanwhile, has a plan, he has cards: he’s been clear that there must be no brinksmanship and no default on the debt ceiling.

Speaker McCarthy: what about you? The House GOP is threatening spending cuts: well, what are they? Why the evasion? Why is your conference hiding from the American people?

House Republicans: where are your cards?

Again, I want to be clear that the debt ceiling is a subject of the highest consequence, and using it as a bargaining chip, using it as brinkmanship, as hostage-taking, as Republicans are trying to do is exceedingly dangerous.

Because if the House of Representatives continues on their current course and allows the United States to default on its debt obligations, every single American is going to pay a terrible and expensive price.

The consequences of default are not some theoretical abstraction; if default happens, Americans will see the consequences in their daily lives.

Interest rates will go soaring on everything from credit cards, and student loans, to cars, mortgages, and more. That’s thousands of dollars for each American going right out the door, and it will happen through no fault of their own.

Retirement plans like 401(k)s would lose their value, robbing people of their hard-earned livelihoods.

For millions of Americans who one day dream of owning a home, their own piece of the rock, a default would add $130,000 to the lifetime cost of a new home loan.

Imagine spending years of putting a little bit of your paycheck aside every month in order to buy a house, only to find out that suddenly that dream is entirely out of reach because radical politicians in Washington bumbled their way into a financial catastrophe.

That’s precisely the danger we approach thanks to the House GOPs’ reckless approach to the debt ceiling.

None of this need be inevitable or even likely, if only House Republicans quit their radical posturing and work with democrats in a serious way to raise the debt ceiling together.

And we should do it soon, not months from now when America finds itself staring straight into the abyss of financial catastrophe.

And I'd remind my Republican colleagues that they did it before, when Trump was President three times; no Democratic obstruction or hostage-taking. We did it once together when Biden was President. And much of this debt comes from spending when Trump was President, voted on by a Republican House and a Republican Senate.

So it's a bit of hypocrisy now to say that they can't do it again, and they are holding it hostage and are playing a dangerous form of brinksmanship.

It shouldn't matter who is President. It's still bills we already incurred that must be paid for the good of all Americans.