Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Importance Of Addressing The Debt Limit And Avoiding A First-Ever U.S. Default

September 14, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the importance of addressing the debt limit in a bipartisan way to avoid default. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

In the long history of our country – the long, long history – the United States has never defaulted on its obligations to pay its debts. The full faith and credit of the United States has been the bedrock of our country’s economic prosperity, a spotless record that both parties have for years worked together to preserve.

No matter who was president, Democrat or Republican, in the past, the other party always stepped up to the plate and said we can't let the country default.

Most recently, when President Trump was in office, Democrats stepped up on three separate occasions to work with Republicans to suspend the debt ceiling and continue to ensure that the US was able to pay its bills, even when there was a Democratic majority in the House.

We did not resort to hostage taking or proclaim that it was the other side’s responsibility—we simply knew that when it came to the debt ceiling, it was important to put aside political differences and act responsibly, no matter who sits in the Oval Office.

We know that failing to raise the debt ceiling would be—as the Republican Leader has said in the past, when Trump was president and he was arguing that Democrats should join him—a “disaster.” Well, if anything, that is an understatement.

Just yesterday, one top forecaster said that “a failure to raise the debt limit would have serious negative consequences.”

So in the immediate future, we need to raise the debt ceiling again. As in previous instances, it must—it must be—a bipartisan endeavor.

And the reason is simple: we have to get this done but much of the recent debt that we need to pay for was incurred during the Trump Administration. In fact, President Trump added nearly 8 trillion dollars to the national debt, five and a half trillion of which was incurred from the last time the debt limit was suspended until President Trump’s final day in office.

So in other words, five and-a-half trillion of this debt is totally under Republican management in a sense, because Trump was the president and Leader McConnell was the Majority Leader. That’s when the debt was created, with Republican votes, lots of Republican votes.

Both sides, led by a Republican Senate, as I said, incurred much of this debt. Senators from both parties overwhelmingly voted in support of the many laws that contributed to this obligation.  So, neither party can wash its hands of responsibility to pay the bills.

Leader McConnell keeps talking about the new spending that Democrats have done. That's not this debt. This debt – five and a half trillion – was all under Trump and when Leader McConnell was the Majority Leader.

Some Republicans, recklessly, irresponsibly, so overwhelmingly politically, seem eager to push our economy to the brink of total catastrophe by suggesting they will oppose any effort to raise the debt ceiling. And rather than urging his colleagues to immediately drop this reckless idea, the Republican Leader, shame on him, seems to be giving it his blessing, if not promoting it.

If the United States defaults on its debt, it will harm every single American in this country, including potentially those who rely on Social Security and members of our military. The consequences would reverberate around the world, and it could cause irreparable harm to the global economy at a time when we are all working to lift ourselves out of a once-in-a-century pandemic.  

So any efforts to play games with the full faith and credit of the United States is reckless, irresponsible, despicable. It could pose permanent damage to the US economy. It is a complete nonstarter.

In America, when it’s time to pay the bills, we do it without exception.

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