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24 GOP Senators Warn Biden They Won’t Back Debt-Limit Hike Without Spending Cuts, Fiscal Reforms

Two dozen Republican senators warned President Joe Biden that they won’t support increasing the debt ceiling without spending cuts and structural reform in spending to tackle the nation’s $31 trillion debt crisis.

“We, the undersigned members of the Senate Republican Conference, write to express our outright opposition to a debt-ceiling hike without real structural spending reform that reduces deficit spending and brings fiscal sanity back to Washington,” The GOP senators wrote in Letter to Biden January 27, 2007.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), and signed by 23 other GOPs including Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.Tedd Budd (R.N.C.), Ted Cruz, (R.Texas). Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), James Risch (R-Idaho.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.).

“It is the policy of the Senate Republican conference ‘that any increase in the debt ceiling must be accompanied by cuts in federal spending of an equal or greater amount as the debt ceiling increase, or meaningful structural reform in spending,’” The group wrote. “We intend to stand by that policy.”

Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) Speaks during the hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Capitol Hill, Washington, Jan. 11, 2022. (Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

The lawmakers cited the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act and Full Faith and Credit Act as examples of effective reforms.

The Prevent Government Shutdowns Act (initially introduced by Lankford and Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) in February 2019, would prevent government shutdowns by setting up an automatic continuing resolution and preventing lawmakers from leaving the nation’s capital until spending legislation is passed.

Meanwhile, the Full Faith and Credit Act was introduced in September 2021 by a group of GOP senators including Cruz, Scott, Braun, and Barrasso. If enacted, it would make sure the federal government prioritizes funding for the military, veterans, and seniors, should the federal debt ceiling be reached.

“We do not intend to vote for a debt-ceiling increase without structural reforms to address current and future fiscal realities, actually enforce the budget and spending rules on the books, and manage out-of-control government policies,” the group added.

Criticism

In their letter, the group of GOP senators also criticized the Biden administration, saying that the nation’s fiscal policy “is a disaster.”

The United States reached its statutory debt limit of $31.381 trillion on Jan. 19 and the Treasury Department had to activate “extraordinary measures” to keep the government solvent until early June.

“Our country owes $31 trillion, a level of debt that now well exceeds the size of our economy,” the GOP senators continued. “Inflation is making life more expensive for American families every single day.

“Meanwhile, your administration is directing federal agencies to continue to spend billions in taxpayer resources, expanding the size and scope of the IRS to go after families and small businesses, policing the speech of Americans on social media, funding equity programs in the military, and pouring money into programs for a pandemic that your administration has declared over.”

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Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) talks to reporters after meeting with Senate Republicans at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 15, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

On Jan. 26, Scott, Budd, and Braun introduced the Blocking the Adverse and Dramatic Increased Reliance on Surveillance (BAD IRS) Activities Act. According to the legislation’s press release, the bill would rescind about $70 billion in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) appropriated by the Inflation Reduction Act for hiring 87,000 IRS agents.

Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law in August 2022, amid concerns that it would drive up the price of electricity and gasoline and about how much it would really lower U.S. inflation.

“Americans are keenly aware that their government is not only failing to work for them—but actively working against them,” the GOP senators said.

Risch, in a Twitter post sharing the letter, said it was time to reduce excessive spending.

“Now is not the time to increase the debt ceiling unless Congress takes meaningful action to reduce excessive spending and enforce our monetary policy,” Risch wrote.

Debt Ceiling

The letter comes as Biden is scheduled to meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Feb. 1 to discuss spending and debt limit.

On Sunday, McCarthy told CBS News’ “Face the Nation” that cutting Social Security and Medicare was “off the table.”

“I mean, if you read our commitment to America, all we talk about is strengthening Medicare and Social Security. So, and I know the president says he doesn’t want to look at it, but we’ve got to make sure we strengthen those,” McCarthy added.

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U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) delivers remarks after being elected as speaker in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 7, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

However, he added that defense spending, including military aid to Ukraine, could face cuts.

“There will not be a default,” McCarthy added. “But what is really irresponsible is what the Democrats are doing right now, saying we just raise the limit.”

The White House told media outlets on Sunday that Wednesday’s meeting would cover “a range of issues.”

“The president will ask Speaker McCarthy if he intends to meet his Constitutional obligation to prevent a national default, as every other House and Senate leader in U.S. history has done,” the White House said. “He will underscore that the economic security of all Americans cannot be held hostage to force unpopular cuts on working families.”

On Jan. 30, Biden, when asked by a reporter about what his message to the GOP House leader would be in Wednesday’s meeting, said, “Show me your budget, I’ll show you mine.” 


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