Monday, May 22, 2023

Cleaver offers update on debt ceiling situation

(From Fifth District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver)

Another week has come and gone, but Speaker McCarthy and my Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives continue their threats to force a default on our national debt rather than raise the debt ceiling--which Congress has done 78 times since 1960, including three times under the previous president. 

I don't want to frighten you, but I think it's important to understand the catastrophic consequences of a default for American families. If Republicans were able to force the first default in American history, it would erase millions of jobs, devastate retirement accounts, increase borrowing costs for businesses and families, and trigger a recession. Put simply: it would be an economic calamity.

Now, the good news is that the President had a productive conversation with Congressional leaders of both parties last week, and their deputies are continuing to negotiate a bipartisan budget proposal that would reduce our national deficit and put the country on a better financial trajectory. This is something that I and the overwhelming majority of Americans would agree with--and what President Biden has committed to with the budget proposal he released months ago.

However, the bad news is that Speaker McCarthy continues to use the threat of a default in an attempt to force President Biden to accept extreme, unnecessary cuts to veterans' benefits, nutrition assistance for kids and seniors, affordable housing programs, and more--all while shielding giant corporations and the wealthiest Americans from paying their fair share in taxes.

In my opinion, teachers and firefighters shouldn't be paying a higher tax rate than Big Business and the top 1% of Americans, and if Congress wants to have a serious conversation about fiscal responsibility, then it has to include discussions about closing tax loopholes that overwhelmingly benefit multi-millionaires, billionaires, and corporations like Amazon and Nike.

Last week, I signed a Discharge Petition that would allow Democrats in the House of Representatives to end this manufactured crisis and ensure the federal government can pay the bills that were racked up under the previous administration. While we still need just a handful of Republicans in the House of Representatives to support the petition to avert this crisis, I believe this is an important exit ramp that could protect the livelihoods of American families if negotiations were to break down.

As always, I will continue to call for common sense to prevail and for my colleagues in the GOP to uphold Congress's solemn obligation to pay the bills of the United States. As negotiations continue this week, I will certainly keep you updated on their progress--but in the meantime, I have a few other important updates on my work in Washington.

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