Chairman Murray Again Calls on Republicans to Drop Debt Limit Brinkmanship, Build on Bipartisan Budget Work

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) sent a letter to her colleagues reiterating that Democrats will once again not negotiate over whether or not the United States will pay its bills, and calling on House Republicans in advance of their conference retreat next week to not engage in another pointless and damaging round of brinkmanship and hostage-taking over the debt limit.

Along with her letter, Murray re-released the September 2013 memo she and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) sent to their colleagues, which showed why Republicans would ultimately join Democrats to prevent a default—and shows why they will do so again.

Here is a link to Murray’s letter and the re-released memo.

Full text of Murray’s letter:

Dear Colleagues,

Last fall, we released a memo that called on our Republican colleagues to end their brinkmanship and join Democrats in passing clean debt ceiling legislation to ensure the United States could continue to pay its bills—including payments to millions of workers, seniors, and members of the military—and avoid hurting the economic recovery with self-inflicted uncertainty.

We believed that Republicans knew they could not afford to force an unprecedented default, and that they would ultimately join us to prevent one with no strings attached.  While we would have preferred to remove the threat of default well in advance of the deadline so that the uncertainty did not hurt the economy, we were glad that Republicans finally did, for the second time in a year, give up their demands and allow Congress to suspend the debt ceiling so the federal government could pay its bills and we could avoid a self-inflicted economic catastrophe.

We were then able to move away from the cycle of governing by crisis and begin the bipartisan budget conference Democrats had pursued since the spring.  Despite conventional wisdom and some skepticism, the budget conference resulted in a compromise agreement to roll back some harmful cuts to education, infrastructure, medical research and national security, and to take the possibility of another government shutdown off the table.

As we approach the date when we will need to act to avoid default again, Democrats will take the same responsible approach we laid out in the memo below. We will not negotiate over whether or not the United States of America should pay its bills. And once again, before they get any further down this damaging path, we call on our Republican colleagues to not play politics with our economic recovery. 

Recent data from the Congressional Budget Office show that near-term budget deficits have improved significantly, falling by more than a third in the first three months of fiscal year 2014. But there is much more we need to do to tackle our long-term deficits responsibly, and crucially, to continue getting more Americans back to work and lay a foundation for broader economic growth in the future.

Democrats are ready and willing to work with Republicans on these and many other challenges.  But as we have repeatedly shown, attempts to avoid compromise by putting the full faith and credit of the United States on the line will not succeed. The only way we can get anything done in a divided government is through compromise, not threats or hostage-taking.

House Republicans are meeting next week to discuss their agenda for the next year. We hope that coming out of this meeting, they will agree to build on the bipartisan budget work done so far, join Democrats in passing a clean debt ceiling bill, and focus on the real long and short-term challenges facing the families and communities we serve.


Patty Murray

Chairman, Senate Budget Committee