Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on House Republicans on Monday to lay out the spending cuts they’re proposing as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling and decried what he called their strategy of “brinkmanship” and “hostage taking” to open negotiations.
Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor that Democrats are prepared to “move quickly” and “well in advance of default” to raise the country’s borrowing authority, which is likely set to expire sometime in the first half of this year. Last week, the U.S. reached the $31.4 trillion ceiling, forcing the Treasury Department to resort to “extraordinary measures” to avoid a default.
“Unfortunately, House Republicans have kicked off their new majority by saying ‘yes’ to brinkmanship, ‘yes’ to hostage taking, ‘yes’ even to risking default, all because of draconian spending cuts being pushed by the hard right,” Schumer said. “House Republicans’ approach to the debt ceiling is dangerous, destabilizing, and the only thing it accomplishes is making a bipartisan solution less likely.”
“The new rules that they adopted require them to bring a proposal to the floor of the House and show the American people precisely what kind of cuts they want to make,” Schumer continued. “If Republicans are talking about draconian cuts, they have an obligation to show Americans what those cuts are and let the public react. … Does that mean cuts to Social Security or Medicare or child care or Pell Grants?”
The Democratic leader repeatedly noted that the ramifications stemming from a default are “not some esoteric issue that’s abstract and way up there in the clouds.”
The comments come days after President Biden indicated he plans to meet with Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to discuss raising the debt ceiling. The White House, however, said later that day he will not entertain policy changes such as spending cuts as part of any negotiation.
McCarthy and conservative Republicans are expected to push for cuts to Social Security and Medicare in any deal, and some national defense spending could also be on the chopping block.
The Treasury Department has yet to lay out an “X date” that the ceiling needs to be lifted by to avoid default. As Schumer noted, Republicans voted to raise the debt ceiling on three occasions during former President Trump’s tenure, including when Democrats were in the minority in both chambers.
“Of course we could have done what MAGA Republicans want: threatening to block debt ceiling extensions unless we got our way,” Schumer said. “This time should be no different.”