Press Release
For Immediate Release: 
September 27, 2021
Contact Info: 
Margaret Mulkerrin 202-225-3130
To:        Editors, Editorial Writers, Reporters
From:   House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer
Re:        Urgency of the Senate Suspending the Debt Limit
Date:     September 27, 2021

The United States sits at the edge of a manufactured financial crisis if Senate Republicans do not join Democrats in acting expeditiously to suspend the debt limit.  Yet Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans appear comfortable risking our nation’s financial stability in order to score political points. Their blatant hypocrisy on this issue, after voting to suspend the debt limit three times over the past four years under a Republican president, places all Americans in economic danger. Of the debt in question, 97% was incurred by the former Trump Administration as a result of its unpaid-for tax cuts benefitting the wealthiest and largest corporations and the COVID-19 pandemic. Addressing the debt limit is not an issue of any new spending; rather, it is about our ability to pay the bills our nation has already accrued.

An economically painful default can be avoided, but it will require that Senate Republicans do the right thing and join with Democrats to suspend the debt limit, as they have done consistently over the past four years. If Senate Republicans skirt this responsibility, refusing to do what is necessary to maintain economic stability, they will bear responsibility for the ensuing crisis that would severely and negatively impact our ability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Consequences of Failing to Suspend the Debt Limit

Unfortunately, this scenario is not entirely unfamiliar; in 2011 and 2013, when Republicans refused to address the debt limit in a timely fashion, Americans across the country suffered the financial consequences to the tune of $180 billion in lost economic activity and 1.2 million fewer jobs created by 2015 because of the uncertainty over a default. On top of this, U.S. credit was downgraded for the first time in our history, dropping below a AAA rating.

According to economist Mark Zandi, if the United States were to default on its debts this fall, we risk sinking into a recession that could cost our economy trillions of dollars in household wealth and wipe out millions of jobs. The impact would be comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, which devastated American workers and families, shut down American businesses, and sent shockwaves through our economy that continue to ripple to this day. Such are the risks that Senate Republicans must weigh in their vote today.

Senate Republicans’ Hypocrisy on Full Display

Senate Republicans have repeatedly voted to raise or suspend the debt ceiling – at the behest of Republican presidents. Their willingness now to play partisan politics with an issue so crucial for our nation’s economic security ought to alarm all Americans and is inconsistent with their prior actions.  On three occasions, Senate Republicans voted to do exactly what they say they will not do this week:
 

Republicans fully understand the importance of suspending the debt limit to avoid default; they have voted in favor of doing so three times in the last four years. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has himself provided a strong argument in favor of Senate Republicans working with Democrats this week to suspend the debt limit and prevent a default.

In Floor remarks on July 31, 2019, Sen. McConnell said: “I certainly don’t think any senators are rooting for a debt limit crisis that could put our full faith and credit at risk.”

Days before that, he told FOX Business, “Well, we raised the debt ceiling because America can't default. I mean that would be a disaster.”

And just this week, the Senate Republican Leader told Punchbowl News: “Let me make it perfectly clear. The country must never default. The debt ceiling will need to be raised. But who does that depends on who the American people elect.”  

Sen. McConnell has put it plainly: Senate Republicans understand the dangers of default, yet they have still chosen the path of partisanship at the risk of economic catastrophe for Americans. Now is not the time for hypocrisy or political games. If Senate Republicans vote against the suspending the debt limit today, their actions betray the trust of the American people at a time when millions are facing unprecedented economic and hardship and uncertainty.

Questions Senate Republicans Need to Answer

As you engage with Sen. McConnell and Senate Republicans ahead of today’s vote, we urge you to ask them these essential questions:
  1. Why did you vote to suspend the debt limit three times in the past four years but refuse to do so now?
  2. How can you reconcile previous statements by Sen. McConnell and other Republican colleagues on the importance of suspending the debt limit with your current plan to vote against this critical measure?
  3. Are you ready to take full responsibility for the consequences of blocking a suspension of the debt limit and allowing for a default?
  4. How are you going to explain to Americans struggling to get back on their feet after the pandemic’s economic crisis why you want to manufacture another – potentially worse – crisis this fall?
  5. What is the Republican plan to address the financial crisis you will create if you do not vote to suspend the debt limit and a default occurs?