Ranking Member DeLauro op-ed: I warned Republicans about their debt ceiling bill. I was right.

April 23, 2023
Press Release

MSNBC.com

I warned Republicans about their debt ceiling bill. I was right.

April 23, 2023

By: Rosa DeLauro

On Wednesday, Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy unveiled a bill he claims will fulfill our debt limit obligations. In truth, the bill holds the economy hostage in exchange for slashing investments important to American families.

In exchange for a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, the speaker’s proposal drastically cuts spending for 2024, then compounds those reductions by capping investments for the next 10 years. To be clear, Republicans are threatening a default on our debt unless we gut vital programs.

As the lead Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees government funding, I have warned for months that cuts of this magnitude will be devastating, no matter how you slice them. Because Republicans have refused to specify the fallout of their indiscriminate cuts, earlier this year I asked federal agencies about the potential impact.

But McCarthy and his allies are moving ahead with their reckless plan, even after those agencies have laid out its disastrous consequences. This should outrage all of us.

For months, I have heard my Republican colleagues claim that defense, veterans' health care and border security would be protected. This bill does not keep that pledge. It either puts this funding on the chopping block or forces further cuts to other critical government programs by more than 22%. As much as Republicans want to pretend otherwise, these caps are cuts. They would ensure that resources for critical programs remain below current levels for the next 10 years — all for less than one year of preventing a default.

Instead of building upon these investments to keep our communities safe, the cuts introduced by Republicans would endanger our public safety and our national security. They would make our borders less safe by allowing hundreds of thousands of pounds of drugs across our borders. They would cut law enforcement by taking thousands of cops off the streets. They put veterans’ health and well-being at risk by delaying access to health care and benefits they have earned. And they weaken our national security by undermining military readiness, damaging efforts to deter the Chinese Communist Party and decreasing our ability to recruit and retain service members.

Not only would Republicans make our communities less safe, but they would also increase costs for hardworking families at a time when families are struggling to get by. They would kick 300,000 children out of child care and Head Start, slash nutrition services for more than 1 million seniors and turn off the heat in 5 million low-income homes. They make health care more expensive and less accessible for 2 million vulnerable people who rely on community health centers. They make college more expensive by reducing the maximum Pell Grant award by nearly $1,000 for the 6.6 million recipients, as well as 80,000 who will no longer receive those grants. They make it more costly to run a small business, and they even make it more difficult and less safe to travel by shutting Federal Aviation Administration operations at 125 air traffic control towers and increasing Transportation Security Administration wait times to more than two hours at large airports.

And to top it all off, these cuts undermine American workers by cutting jobs and job training programs, robbing workers of back pay, and making work environments less safe. 

McCarthy wrongfully claims that this path would “restore fiscal discipline.” I know, and the American people know, that there is nothing disciplined about threatening the full faith and credit of the United States to force indiscriminate cuts to the yearly spending process — a process under which we funded critical programs with bipartisan support as recently as December. These annual bills lower costs, create jobs and support American communities.

McCarthy’s dangerous scheme would cause irreparable damage to our communities by gutting programs every single American relies on. This bill all but guarantees more chaos and increases the likelihood of going from one debt limit and government shutdown fight to the next. This is not what the American people elected us to do. I will continue to lead House Appropriations Democrats in rejecting these dangerous plans and protect American children and families with the urgency and focus they require. I urge my Republican colleagues to do the same.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro serves as ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. She represents Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

118th Congress