Updated Jan 15, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP Rep: National debt default a "real threat" that both sides must take seriously

The looming prospect of a default on the U.S. national debt poses a "real threat that both sides have to take serious," Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.) told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Driving the news: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in a letter Friday that the U.S. was set to reach its debt limit on Jan. 19, at which point the Treasury would begin to take "extraordinary measures" to avoid default.

  • Yellen said the extraordinary measures could last until June. Republicans hope to use debt ceiling negotiations to cut spending.
  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Friday at a press briefing that the administration would not be "doing any negotiation over the debt ceiling" and that "Congress is going to need to raise the debt limit without conditions."

What they're saying: "The Republicans were largely elected to get control of reckless funding. That's the mission that their voters have given them. So, when President Biden says he's just going to refuse to negotiate with Republicans on any concessions, I don't think that's right either," Bacon said.

  • "But on our side, we have to realize we control the House with a four-seat majority. The Senate is run by the Democrats with a one-seat majority. And the president is obviously from the Democratic Party. So we can't get everything we want either," he added.
  • "So I want our side to negotiate with the Democrats in good faith but President Biden has to also negotiate. He can't say he refuses to negotiate. That's a nonstarter as well."
  • "Both sides are going to have to be willing to work together. We have a large group on both sides of the aisle that's 'my way or the highway.' That does not work in our country and I encourage President Biden to reach out to the leadership on the Republican side," Bacon said.

Worth noting: McCarthy told Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures” that it was important to "look at 'How did we get here?'" and spoke of high discretionary spending by Democrats.

  • "If you look just in the last four years that Democrats were in the majority, they increased discretionary spending by 30%," McCarthy said Sunday. "When Republicans were in the majority for the eight years prior, they didn't increase it by one dollar. So that's $400 billion a year we spend more."
  • "For the White House to say they won't even look for it, that they can't find one penny out of a dollar of eliminating waste? I think they're just trying to put us into bankruptcy," he added.
  • "Does Defense getting more than $800 billion, are there areas that I think they could be more efficient? Yeah. Eliminate all the money spent on wokism. Eliminate all the money that they're trying to find different fuels and they're worried about the environment to go through."

Go deeper: Why debt ceiling risks could be real this time

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