A senior House Republican leader said on Wednesday that passing a “strong” debt limit bill should be the GOP’s top legislative priority and called for a vote on the measure in April, arguing that “the time for action is now.”
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.), who chairs the Republican Study Committee (RSC), set the end-of-month deadline for a vote on the bill in a Wednesday letter to his GOP colleagues (pdf).
“Passage of a strong debt limit bill before the end of the April legislative session must be the chamber’s top priority,” Hern wrote. “We must work night and day to get it passed to show the American people we can be trusted and force the Senate and White House to answer for their dereliction of duty.”
Hern’s appeal to the RSC’s 176 members comes amid a debt ceiling deadlock between House Speaker Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and President Joe Biden, as the United States inches closer to a possible debt default.
Hern’s letter did not specify what the RSC wants to include in the debt limiting measure, but the group released a “Debt Limit Playbook” (pdf) in March that outlines their priorities, which focus on discretionary spending cuts.
House lawmakers face a tight window to meet Hern’s request for a vote by the end of April after they return from Easter recess next week.
Debt Ceiling Standoff
Both Democrats and Republicans have warned that failure to meet the country’s debt obligation would be disastrous for the economy. But while Republicans have pushed for Democrat commitments to cut spending in exchange for agreeing to lift the $31.4 trillion borrowing cap, Biden has so far insisted on a clean bill to raise the debt limit.
The United States hit the $31.4 trillion borrowing limit earlier this year, forcing the Treasury Department to deploy a series of “extraordinary measures” to keep setting U.S. debt obligations and avoid a national debt default.
However, according to projections from the Congressional Budget Office, the Treasury’s extraordinary measures will run out sometime between July and September this year unless Congress raises the debt cap.
Rather than negotiate with the GOP on spending cuts as part of raising the debt ceiling, Biden and his Democrat allies in Congress have demanded that Republicans make their spending-cut proposals public.
“I shared my budget with the American people on March 9, 2023,” the president wrote in a letter to McCarthy earlier this month. “My hope is that House Republicans can present the American public with your budget plan before the Congress leaves for the Easter recess so that we can have an in-depth conversation when you return,” Biden added.
Biden said that he’s prepared to consider Republican proposals for spending cuts as part of a budget plan, but that such discussions must be separate from “prompt action on the Congress’ basic obligation to pay the nation’s bills an avoid economic catastrophe.”
McCarthy told Biden in a letter of his own that the president’s refusal to negotiate spending cuts to get GOP backing on raising the debt ceiling “could prevent America from meeting its obligations and hold dire ramifications for the entire nation.”
“With each passing day, I am incredibly concerned that you are putting an already fragile economy in jeopardy by insisting upon your extreme position of refusing to negotiate any meaningful changes to out-of-control government spending alongside an increase of the debt limit,” McCarthy wrote.
Republicans have taken issue with Biden’s big-ticket spending, blaming it for sending inflation to multi-decade highs.
Since taking office, Biden has signed off on trillions in spending, including the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the $745 billion Inflation Reduction Act, and, most recently, a $1.7 trillion omnibus package passed at the end of the last Congress.
Hern said in his letter that American voters “are sick of the persistent hardships inflicted by Democrats’ excessive spending and oppressive policies.”
“They gave us a mandate: tame inflation, deliver affordable energy and a strong economy, stop spending their future away, and rein in the woke and weaponized government,” Hern added.
The RSC’s “Debt Limit Playbook” sets forth their agenda for spending curbs. The proposal includes rolling back the recent growth in discretionary spending, reducing regulatory obstacles to domestic energy production, looking for ways to cut down on government waste, and creating measures for long-term fiscal control.
Biden has accused Republicans of targeting mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, while the GOP has insisted their focus is solely on cutting back on non-defense discretionary spending.
Meanwhile, McCarthy said recently that investors should be worried about the deadlock in Washington over raising the debt ceiling.
“Unfortunately, I tried to sit down with the president and the president doesn’t want to communicate,” McCarthy told Bloomberg TV, adding that since a meeting with Biden on Feb. 1, the only communication between the two on the debt ceiling has been via an exchange of letters.
McCarthy said Republicans were working on a proposal for raising the debt ceiling. Asked whether he plans to speak to investors about the GOP proposal in order to reassure markets, McCarthy said that Wall Street is right to be worried.
“They should be concerned,” McCarthy said, adding that Biden hasn’t wanted to meet and that communication between the two has basically ground to a standstill.
From The Epoch Times