Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Importance Of Taking Bipartisan Action To Keep The Government Open And Avoid Default

September 21, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to take bipartisan action to keep the government open through December 3rd of this year and avoid a needless and dangerous shutdown, provide emergency funding to help resettle Afghan evacuees, and suspend the debt ceiling until December of 2022. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Yesterday, Speaker Pelosi and I put in motion the path to pass a continuing resolution that, in one fell swoop, would accomplish four very important things: it would keep the government open through December 3rd of this year and avoid a needless and dangerous shutdown; it would provide emergency funding to help resettle Afghan evacuees; it would approve tens of billions of dollars in disaster aid funding; and it will suspend the debt ceiling until December of 2022, commensurate with the time necessary to cover the debt of the bipartisan $908 billion emergency COVID relief bill passed at the end of last year.

Now today I want to spend some time focusing on the last of these items: addressing the debt limit to avoid a first-ever default in American history.

Throughout modern history, addressing the debt ceiling has consistently been done on a bipartisan basis.

Let me repeat that. Throughout modern history, addressing the debt ceiling has consistently been done on a bipartisan basis.

Since 1960 the debt ceiling has been raised approximately 80 times under both Republican and Democrat Administrations, and under both unified and divided government. So much for the argument by Leader McConnell that when all three branches are controlled by one party, the debt ceiling ought to be their exclusive domain. That's not what history has shown and that's not what happened, actually, in 2017 when Donald Trump was president and when McConnell was Majority Leader.

To do otherwise—not doing the debt ceiling in a bipartisan way—has been considered unthinkable because the consequences for the economy, for the American people, for our standing on the world stage would be too severe.

Senate Republicans and the Republican Leader, however, are again engaging in fantastical feats of sophistry to justify why this time is somehow different. We know it’s not. We all know the truth: Democrats and Republicans both had a hand in approving the spending we now must pay.

Look: we know the Republican justification for forcing a default is totally dishonest, plain and simple.

Don’t ask me: just listen to the Wall Street Journal. Here’s what it said: “Congress would still need to raise the debt limit this fall even if no new major spending programs were enacted.”

This idea that they don't want to raise the debt ceiling to deal with future spending is just totally false. Ask the Wall Street Journal.

The fact is our continuing resolution would suspend the debt limit through December of 2022, an amount of time commensurate with the debt incurred as a result of passing the bipartisan $908 billion emergency COVID relief legislation in December of last year.

Remember: that legislation was drafted by Republicans, voted for by Republicans, put on the floor by Leader McConnell who voted for it, and signed by a Republican president. Democrats worked with our colleagues to pass this bill because it was the right thing to do—for our families, our small businesses, and suffering communities.

Our CR is now carefully tailored—carefully tailored—to account for this debt. This is as reasonable as it gets.

And so for Republicans to suddenly throw their hands in the air and abscond from their responsibility to pay debt that they proudly supported is nothing short of a dine-and-dash of historic proportions.

Republicans racked trillions of dollars of debt under President Trump and are demanding American families foot the bill.

What will this do? It could stop payments to social security recipients.

It could stop payments to veterans.

It could raise interest rates, making a mortgage, a car loan more expensive.

It could cost local governments to pay more in interest and that might mean increased taxes for people.

This is playing with fire. Playing games with the debt ceiling is playing with fire and putting it on the back of the American people.

Of course there is a very quick and easy way to make sure we avoid all of this from becoming even a possibility: Republicans simply don’t have to vote to force a default. It’s that simple.

Democrats will do the right and responsible thing when the Continuing Resolution comes for a vote on the floor. We will see who among the Republican Conference will do likewise.  

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