Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the debt limit and the need for Senators to vote in favor of the House-passed continuing resolution to fund the government and avoid catastrophic default. Senator Schumer added that raising the debt ceiling is about paying the bills that have already been racked up, not new debt. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
I want to begin today talking about debt limit by returning to three very frightening statistics.
The first is $15 trillion: that is the amount of household wealth that a leading economist recently warned could be wiped out of the economy should the government default on its debt.
The second is six million: that’s the number of jobs that the same analysis said could be lost should a default become a reality.
The third statistic is 9%: that’s the unemployment rate our country potentially faces if we don’t do our jobs to raise the debt ceiling.
Now none of these statistics, none of these numbers, need become a reality if both parties unite in the coming days to pass the Continuing Resolution sent to us by the House. It would keep the government open for three months, it would provide funding for disaster relief and Afghan refugees.
And, of course, it would suspend the debt ceiling until the end of 2022 so we can pay for the debt incurred at the end of the previous administration.
Every single member of this chamber is going to go on record as to whether they support keeping the government open and averting a default, or support shutting us down and careening our country towards a first-ever default.
Democrats will be united in supporting the passage of the CR. It’s the right thing to do for the American people and it would immediately stop these unnecessary crises that are knocking at our doorstep.
At the end of the day, the only thing that matters in a legislative body is how you vote. That is the most important thing we do. There are many other important things, but that is the one that matters the most. It’s what our constituents sent us here to do.
Now, Senate Republicans have claimed repeatedly they are all for avoiding a government shutdown. They have said repeatedly that the debt ceiling must be raised.
So today I want to offer a novel suggestion: if Republicans want to avoid default, then they should vote yes!
If the Republicans want to keep the government open, they should vote yes!
But incredibly, Leader McConnell is spinning a tale, a web of subterfuge, deception and outright contradictions, and has said that he is going to vote no and he urges Republicans to vote no.
This is Alice-in-Wonderland logic: Republicans claim to oppose a default, but they’re saying they are going to vote for one anyway.
They say they oppose a government shutdown, but they’re going to vote for one anyway.
They say they want disaster relief, but they say they’re going to oppose it when the time comes.
So they can resort to all the sophistry they want, but if they vote no the Republican Party will be solidifying itself as the party of default, and the American people, unfortunately, are going to be the ones footing the bill, a high cost to pay for Republican games, political games.
By voting to default, the Republicans would be telling the American people they’re fine if people don’t get their social security checks.
They’re saying they don’t care if our veterans are denied benefits.
They’re saying they don’t care if the markets come crashing down, hurting people’s pensions and IRAs.
None of this is an exaggeration. Economist Mark Zandi—a former adviser to the late Senator McCain—wrote recently that a default would be a “catastrophic blow to the nascent economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.” He also warned that “Americans would pay for this default for generations.”
I hope my Republican colleagues heard that last part as they are thinking of indulging in the political game put forward by Leader McConnell: “Americans would pay for this default for generations.”
Of course we all know by now that the Republican justifications for opposing raising the debt ceiling are entirely bunk. They say they’re opposed to new spending, but the Wall Street Journal has said “Raising the debt limit wouldn’t facilitate future spending, and Congress would still need to raise the debt limit this fall even if no new major spending programs are enacted.”
Do you hear that, Republicans? This is the Wall Street Journal: even if not a new single spending program were enacted, we'd still have to raise the debt that was incurred by President Trump and by all of your votes. How crass can you be? How heartless can you be?
You voted to spend these moneys because of COVID. It was a valid reason. And now you don’t want to pay for it and you come up with some lame political sophistry trying to justify it. But everyone sees through that, everyone.
The truth is we will be voting to pay for the debt accrued under presidents of both parties – including the nearly $8 trillion added to the debt under President Trump. Both sides incurred the debt, both sides should pay it.
It wasn’t that long ago that threatening a default on the national debt was something you only heard in the fringes of the Republican Party. About ten years ago the Republican Speaker at the time called the idea “insanity.”
But today, it’s literally the party line, a sad commentary on just how far down the rabbit hole the Republican Party has gone.
If my Republican colleagues disagree, they have a simple option: they can vote yes to keep the government open. They can vote yes on suspending the debt limit. It is in their hands.
But if Republicans vote favor of a shutdown and default, the American people will see exactly who is responsible for throwing our country into crisis.