GOP Senator Fears Debt-Ceiling Negotiations Headed In Wrong Direction, Vows To Delay For ‘Substantial’ Budget Reform
Sen. Mike Lee/President Joe Biden/Speaker Kevin McCarthy
Drew Angerer/Getty Images/Win McNamee/Getty Images/Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) doesn’t like where debt-ceiling negotiations between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and President Joe Biden are heading. 

Lee, who chairs the Senate Republican Steering Committee, said Thursday morning that he fears the talks on raising the debt ceiling are ignoring “substantial spending and budgetary reforms” that conservatives in the House and the Senate say are vital for any deal to be made. 

“I will use every procedural tool at my disposal to impede a debt-ceiling deal that doesn’t contain substantial spending and budgetary reforms,” Lee tweeted. “I fear things are moving in that direction. If they do, that proposal will not face smooth sailing in the Senate.”

The Utah senator’s comment comes as the White House and McCarthy are reportedly nearing an agreement to raise the debt ceiling before June 1, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. could be unable to pay its bills. McCarthy said Thursday that he worked “well past midnight” with Biden, but there are “still some outstanding issues,” adding that he has “directed our teams to work 24/7 to try to solve this problem.” 

The House speaker is being pressured by the House Freedom Caucus to hold the line. The most conservative bloc of the House Republicans wrote to McCarthy on Thursday, asking him to only agree to a deal with the White House that would help “minimiz[e] the damaging inflationary consequences of reckless spending.”

The Republican-led House passed the “Limit, Save, Grow Act” last month, which would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion while also cutting the budget by $4.8 trillion over the next decade, The Hill reported. The reforms desired in that legislation are not expected to make it past the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House, however. 

Lee, who has led the effort to push for budgetary reform, could delay floor proceedings on a debt ceiling bill through procedural tools such as requiring a full reading of the bill and refusing to waive motions to skip other Senate formalities. 

Earlier this month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) joined Lee and 41 other Senate Republicans in signing a letter to Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) stating that the Senate GOP would not support “any bill that raises the debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms.” 


“It is now clear that Senate Republicans aren’t going to bail out on Biden and Schumer, they have to negotiate. I thank my colleagues for joining my effort to emphasize this point in the clearest possible terms,” Lee said. 

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