Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor on Speaker McCarthy bending to the will of the hard-right and taking default hostage, endangering the safety of the American people and the economy. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
With June 1st only twenty one days away, the most important thing Congressional leaders can do to protect the wellbeing of Americans is to say, loud and clear, default is off the table.
That is the assurance the President gave two days ago when he met with Congressional leaders.
It’s the assurance Leader Jeffries and myself gave that day at the meeting as well. Even Leader McConnell said the U.S. will not default on the national debt.
Speaker McCarthy, however, continues on a path to drive the country towards disaster.
Instead of taking default off the table, Speaker McCarthy is taking default hostage. Let me say that again because that sums up what is happening right now. Instead of taking default off the table, Speaker McCarthy is taking default hostage. The strategy of the hard right, remains “our way or the highway.”
Either Americans accept devastating cuts to veterans, law enforcement, even cancer research, or the hard right will allow default. What a terrible choice.
And that is what makes this default fight uniquely dangerous: the hard right is dominant in the House and they seem to be ready—seem to be perfectly willing—to let the U.S. default. Speaker McCarthy realizes his hard right agenda—as embodied in their Default on America Act—cannot win support from the American people on the merits, so he and the hard right are holding the country hostage to default.
And if anyone doubts the hard right is in control, all they have to do is watch last night’s CNN town hall, where former president Donald Trump openly called on Republicans to “do a default” if they cannot enact their hard-right agenda.
Never mind that under Donald Trump’s watch, Republicans agreed to avoid default three times without ever getting hung up about unrelated partisan priorities. And never mind that twenty-five percent—a quarter—of the national debt was actually accumulated while President Trump was in office. He is openly calling on his party to destroy the economy if they can’t pass their radical agenda.
By now, of course, it is old news that Donald Trump is about as qualified to run the country as a broken brick, but the danger here is he holds enormous sway over Speaker McCarthy and the hard right.
If Donald Trump says that it’s better for the U.S. to default than it is for Republicans to compromise, that, unfortunately, only makes default more likely.
Donald Trump’s demands for default would cause tens of millions of Americans to suffer.
This isn’t difficult: can we all clearly and unmistakably take default off the table? Will Speaker McCarthy take default off the table? He is the only one of the five of us who met at the White House who has not answered that.
Speaker McCarthy, will you allow the hard right to keep pulling the strings and push our country off a cliff, or will you make it clear that no matter what, we will preserve the full faith and credit of the United States?
Look, we recognize that Republicans have objections about certain policies, certain spending, certain investments. We do not agree with them, but these discussions are a normal part of the budget process that both sides have engaged in for a long time.
This is too important for brinkmanship and reckless ultimatums. White House staff, along with my office, the Speaker’s office, Leader McConnell, Leader Jeffries, will continue to meet in attempt to find a constructive way forward on the budget appropriations’ priorities. If Speaker McCarthy is willing to state that despite what Trump says, that default is off the table, there can be real progress on the budget and obviously as the Speaker of the House, Speaker McCarthy will have some real influence in that. But that progress should not and cannot be tied to default.
I hope Americans take a moment to listen to the dangerous things President Trump said last night about default, because he exposed just how unfit MAGA Republicans are for governing—and how serious they are about their threats.