January 09, 2023

Far-right House Members Seek Commitment that New Speaker Will Use Debt Limit to Force Spending Cuts

Conservative rebels in the House are demanding that the next Speaker of the House commit to opposing a “clean” debt limit increase later in 2023. Their goal is to tie any vote to increase the nation’s debt ceiling to deep cuts in domestic spending that could include cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

If the maneuver succeeds, it will set up a showdown with Senate Democrats and President Biden and put the country at risk of default.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-SC) publicly made the threat on behalf of his camp last Wednesday, telling reporters that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who was battling to become Speaker, would have to commit to “shut down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling” in order to win their support to lead the House.

Multiple members have said the debt ceiling vote should be used to force cuts to Social Security and Medicare, which President Biden has vowed to oppose. The Treasury Department has not said when exactly the debt limit will expire, but economists estimate it will need to be raised sometime after July.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) said that “there certainly is that danger” that 2023 could turn into a repeat of 2011, when the deadlock over raising the debt limit dragged on for months and took the nation so close to default that Standard and Poor’s downgraded America’s credit rating.

“Many Republicans have stated that they will force the country to default, setting off a global economic crisis, unless Democrats and President Biden accept changes to Social Security and Medicare,” said Richard Fiesta, Executive Director of the Alliance. “The Alliance will do whatever it takes to ensure that does not happen, whoever the new Speaker is.”

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