The four House Republicans who voted against GOP leadership’s debt ceiling plan are speaking out about why they oppose the bill touted by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as the United States faces the possibility of an unprecedented default on its obligations this summer.
Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Tim Burchett (R-TN), and Ken Buck (R-CO) joined the vast majority of Democrats in opposing the legislation that would suspend the debt limit until it rises by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024 — whichever comes first — in exchange for a host of spending cuts. The final tally showed 217 voted in favor and 215 voted against the “Limit, Save, Grow Act of 2023.” Three members, including one Republican and two Democrats, did not vote.
Gaetz’s office put out a statement that said the four-term congressman has “consistently” voted against raising the debt ceiling and advocated in favor of tightened work requirements for social safety net programs.
“As our nation is careening into a $32 trillion debt, Congress shouldn’t be making final changes at 2 a.m. — the morning of the vote — to legislation raising the debt limit $1.5 trillion,” Gaetz said, alluding to concessions made in the last 24 hours.
“While I applaud the work of my Republican colleagues to demand better energy policy, regulatory reform, welfare-to-work requirements and less spending, a troubling fact remains. This plan will increase America’s debt by $16 trillion over the next ten years,” he added. “Gaslighting nearly $50 trillion in debt to America is something my conscious cannot abide at this time.”
Biggs, who unsuccessfully challenged McCarthy to become House speaker, faulted the legislation for not reducing the national debt and failing to be more “aggressive” in spending. He said federal spending should at the very least be returned to fiscal year 2019, pre-COVID pandemic levels — as opposed to 2022 levels outlined in the bill.
“Our national debt is a top national security threat. I have never voted to raise the debt ceiling in my time in Congress – even while President Trump was in the Oval Office – and didn’t today for the same reasons,” Biggs said in a statement. “We owe the American people and our future generations sound and responsible fiscal policy. Increasing the national debt to ‘only’ $47 trillion over ten years – an increase of over $14 trillion from today – is misguided and perpetuates Washington’s spending problem.”
Burchett touted how he has never voted to raise the debt limit, “no matter who was in charge” — a nod to a common line of attack from Democrats who criticize Republicans for attaching conditions to a debt ceiling increase when they voted in favor of a “clean” bill when former President Donald Trump was in office.
“Our country is nearly $32 trillion in debt right now. That’s a debt neither we, nor our kids or grandkids can pay,” Burchett added in a statement. “We need to do whatever is necessary to get back to a balanced budget and meaningful debt reduction so this issue doesn’t keep coming back to haunt us.”
In his statement, Buck referenced how the Congressional Budget Office projected the proposal would slash federal deficits by $4.8 trillion over 10 years, saying that would still leave the United States with $53 trillion debt during that time period.
“Republicans must distinguish ourselves from Democrats by taking a stand against out-of-control spending and reversing course before it’s too late,” Buck said.
Although the bill passed the House, it faces long odds as it heads to the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. The White House and its allies have been pushing for a “clean” debt ceiling bill separate from any spending cuts or any policy concessions.
During a press conference after the vote, McCarthy dared Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to put an alternative debt ceiling plan to a vote, noting the two chambers could go to conference if it passed, and the speaker challenged President Joe Biden to agree to talks. “Now, the president can no longer put this economy in jeopardy,” McCarthy said.