Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on Republicans holding the debt ceiling hostage. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Let me begin with a quote: “I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge.”
Those words, are not mine. They’re not even the words of a Democrat. They come from former President Donald Trump. For all his terrible flaws—in this case, I’d say a broken clock is right twice a day—even Donald Trump understood what House Republicans today do not: the full faith and credit of the United States must never be taken hostage. Again, to quote former President Trump: “I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge.”
Time is ticking before the United States enters into a first-ever default on national debt if things don’t change.
Yesterday, Speaker McCarthy met with House Republicans in hopes of uniting his party around a single framework of cuts, albeit one that will never become law.
Speaker McCarthy’s meeting, from all reports, did not go well to put it lightly.
One GOP member said yesterday: “I am still a no.”
Another, from Florida: “I think that they should go further…I am in favor of very aggressive cuts.”
Another, from South Carolina: “I’m not there yet.”
We could go on and on with these quotes. Even now, Speaker McCarthy—this is months and months after he proposed making deep cuts as a condition, as brinkmanship, as hostage-taking, to just simply make sure that we avoid default—even now he is still short of the support he needs to pass a debt ceiling bill, because the chasm is too big between moderates and the hard right extremists who are glad to see the economy taken hostage in exchange for their priorities. As the Washington Post wrote this weekend: “Many GOP lawmakers and aides admit it is not even clear whether their emerging plan can actually attract 218 votes.” And now the clock is ticking. We’re getting closer and closer to when we have to act to avoid default.
So for all the speeches, for all the letters, for all the wish-lists and meetings with this family or that family, the underlying facts haven’t changed: at this point, Speaker McCarthy does not have a plan for avoiding a catastrophic default on the debt.
I quoted one former Republican president; let me quote another: Ronald Reagan said, “brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits” and “the United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations.”
When Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump say that the Republican strategy led by Speaker McCarthy is folly, you know how far right the whole MAGA Republican House has gone. Things that were accepted a few years ago by very conservative Republican presidents, Reagan, Trump, now seem to be discarded in a headlong rush to make the kind of deep cuts Americans will never support and to tie it to the debt ceiling, which could head us crashing to default.
The solution to this entire mess is staring Republicans right in the face: do what we did three times under Donald Trump and twice under President Biden and work with Democrats to avoid default without brinkmanship, without blackmail, without hostage-taking.
If Republicans drop their hostage-taking and approach Democrats in good faith, the default crisis can be resolved. But if Speaker McCarthy does not change course, he will be leading America into default of not paying our debts for the first time.