Senator Whitehouse on Impending June Default, Republican Hostage-Taking

Washington, D.C.—Today, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement after the Treasury Department announced its “best estimate” that the government will be unable to pay all its obligations as early as June 1 if the debt limit is not raised. The Congressional Budget Office similarly now projects “a significantly greater risk that the Treasury will run out of funds in early June” than it did in February. 

“Republicans’ failure to agree to cleanly raise the debt ceiling has brought the United States to the brink of economic catastrophe.  Today, we learned that we are potentially within a month of a self-inflicted economic shock that could dwarf the Great Recession, and Republicans are holding our economy hostage, adding to economic instability. 

“Their fast-track to default would permanently increase borrowing costs and delay payments to all Social Security recipients, the doctors and hospitals who see patients covered by Medicare and Medicaid, and millions of businesses.  Veterans would see their hard-earned benefits at risk, and service members would no longer be guaranteed paychecks on time or in full.  A default would almost certainly trigger a recession. 

“Republicans’ ransom note—the Default on America Act—demands cuts estimated to wipe out 780,000 jobs, raise costs for families, and shrink our economy by $146 billion next year alone.  Hatched via backroom deals with fossil fuel overlords and dark money donors, it privileges polluters over people and even includes a budget-busting gift to wealthy tax cheats. 

“Under Republican and Democratic administrations, both Republican- and Democratic-controlled Congresses have raised the debt ceiling without conditions because it is right for American families, for businesses, and for our entire economy. 

“Hostage-taking is not the way this country governs.  We must change course, cleanly raise the debt ceiling, and avert widespread economic pain and instability while we still can.” 

On Thursday, the Budget Committee will hold a hearing to highlight the recklessness of the Default on America Act, which would put more than 10 million Americans at risk of losing health insurance and cut funding by up to 33% for border security, law enforcement, job training, affordable energy, opioid treatment, and housing while delivering big giveaways to the fossil fuel industry.