Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on Republicans threatening a default crisis, calling on House Republicans to live by their own rules and bring a debt ceiling bill to the floor. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
No issue, of course, will matter more in the coming months than raising the debt ceiling.
Over the next few months, we’re going to hear more about the debt ceiling in Congress, maybe more than any other issue.
But the matter is very simple: if the U.S. is allowed to default on its debt for the first time, the consequences will be severe and every single American will pay the price.
A default means interest rates will spike on everything from car loans, to credit cards, to mortgages. It means that Americans will potentially have to pay thousands of dollars more a year on regular expenses. Homes will lose their value, homes, the average middle class person’s piece of the rock that they struggle and save for, so they can own a home. So they don’t have to pay rent and can pay a mortgage where they get equity. Those homes will lose their value if we default, God forbid, on the debt. Because mortgage rate interests will soar, and people have less to pay for a home, and supply and demand says the price goes down, the value goes down.
Meanwhile, the millions of Americans who have saved for retirement will see their retirement plans like 401(k)s lose their value, robbing retirees of their hard-earned livelihoods.
So the dangers of default are not abstract. Oh no. This is not some academic argument up there in the clouds. This affects every American family and we're going to make sure they hear all about it. The consequences are as real as they get, and the entire world is watching what we do here in Congress.
But rather than work with Democrats in a productive, constructive way to raise the debt ceiling, the House GOP has immediately resorted to brinkmanship and hostage-taking. They say they will not raise the debt ceiling unless we give in to their demands for draconian spending cuts that would impact just about every American, again, in a very bad way.
Well, I say to my Republican colleagues: if you want to talk about spending cuts, then you have an obligation – an obligation – to show the American people precisely what kind of cuts you are talking about.
Are Republicans going to hold Social Security hostage in exchange for the debt ceiling? Or pay raises for our troops? Or support for veterans? Or funding for police and firefighters and first responders? Or Medicare funding that millions of seniors rely on? Republicans, you owe the American people answers on what you mean by spending cuts.
Remember: the House rules that the GOP approved are clear: they need to bring a debt ceiling bill to the floor, let the entirety of the House debate it and vote on it, and let the American people see and assess the cuts for themselves.
So once again to my House GOP colleagues: if you are serious about spending cuts, show us the math. Show us why you think it is worth risking a global financial crisis just to pass your extremist agenda. Because inevitably, what you’re saying are cuts are vital to so many Americans, so many Americans.
Being in the majority means that it won’t be enough to hide behind timeworn rhetoric about wasteful spending. When it comes to the debt ceiling, the substance counts, the details count, and the consequences are very, very real.
And unless Republicans can resolve their own chaos and beat back their own extremism, I fear that every day that passes without action on the debt ceiling will increase the risk of default and risk the great harm it will do to the American people.
And should that happen, Americans will see that the fault lies entirely in the hands of the radical GOP.