Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on the debt ceiling. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
For months, Democrats have been clear: the full faith and credit of the United States cannot be held hostage. For months, we asked Speaker McCarthy and Republicans to present a plan – a real plan – to avoid default with no brinksmanship, no hostage-taking.
But instead of presenting a viable plan, last week Speaker McCarthy and House Republicans passed the Default on America Act, a hard-right ransom note to the American people.
Republicans’ Default on America Act poses two terrible choices: either default on the debt or default on our country, with severe cuts to law enforcement, veterans, families, teachers, kids, even cancer research.
Let me be clear: the Republican Default on America Act has no future in the Senate, and it does nothing to resolve the looming default crisis. If anything, MAGA Republicans have made default more likely by locking the House into an unacceptable and very extreme position, and pulling us even further apart.
According to one report by the Washington Post, and I commend everybody, Democrats and Republican, to read it, but according to this one report by the Washington Post, many hard-right House members say their DOA bill represents the bare minimum they’re willing to accept. The bare minimum!
One Freedom Caucus member said this bill is “not a negotiating piece. It’s the deal” and further added that “[Speaker McCarthy] cannot get to 218 with changes to this deal.” And he meant changes even further to the extreme.
Let me read that again, because it so perfectly captures the extremist thinking on the hard right, which we all know have tremendous leverage in the House. Speaker McCarthy “cannot get to 218 with changes to this deal.” Okay, let me just read it again. “Cannot get to 218 with changes to this deal.”
Respectfully, that is not negotiation. That is a ransom note. That is a hostage-taking tactic. It is another sign that Speaker McCarthy has surrendered to the extremist in his conference, who are ready to let the US default unless they get everything, everything they want.
Senate Democrats cannot – and will not – allow Republicans’ Default on America Act to become law, because the consequences of these cuts for American families would be severe. For generations, Congress has made spending and revenue decisions as part of the annual budget process. That is the appropriate place to debate, not here as a bargaining chip, a take it or leave it bargaining chip for the hard right.
So beginning this week, our Senate Committees will do what House Republicans would not do: hold hearings to expose the damage that the cuts contained in the Default on America Act would cause to everyday American families.
We’ll show the American people how the Default on America Act would rip away SNAP benefits for over a million recipients, and eliminate Pell Grants for tens of thousands of student loan borrowers.
We’ll show the American people how the Default on America Act would raise taxes by over $500 billion over the next decade, crippling job creation, stifling economic growth, and squandering our future prosperity to the benefit of the Chinese Communist Party.
And we’ll show the American people how the Default on America Act would cut critical funding to nearly all sectors of American life, leading to fewer jobs, higher costs, and leaving policemen, first responders, border patrol, and our brave veterans all hanging out to dry.
We cannot move forward so long as hard right MAGA Republicans, which we all know have tremendous, enormous leverage in the House, insist on their bill—a bill that is unacceptable to the Senate and the vast majority of the American people. Sadly, if the hard right continues running the show in the House, the dangers of a first ever default will keep growing day by day. And as we expose this terrible bill for what it is, Senate Democrats’ position remains the same: the only real solution is for both parties to pass a clean bill to avoid default with no brinksmanship, no hostage-taking.