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Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, let's be clear. Raising the debt ceiling has absolutely
nothing to do at all with increasing government spending. It only has
to do with whether America will pay its bills for obligations already
Many of those obligations, by the way, are for expenditures that I
vigorously opposed: trillions of dollars on the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, unpaid for, and trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the
very wealthy that are unpaid for.
But the United States of America, in good times and bad, through
Republican Presidents and Democratic Presidents, in Republican-led and
Democratic-led Congresses, has always paid its bills--always. We have
done it for two reasons.
First, it is the right thing to do. A promise made is a promise kept.
An obligation incurred is an obligation honored. Mr. Speaker, a
confident nation keeps its word. A confident nation pays its bills, not
some of them. It pays all of them.
Second, running from our creditors, stiffing them, picking and
choosing whom to pay among them is as fiscally reckless as it is
dishonorable. This new theory that America can actually consider it
feasible as an option to default is extremely dangerous and very
Mr. Speaker, in 2011, when this tactic was first seriously considered
and we came on the brink of default, it cost U.S. taxpayers $19 billion
in unnecessary interest charges. That is $19 billion that could have
been used to fix our highways or invest in scientific research, or it
is $19 billion that your side might have preferred for tax cuts, or we
could have split it. But that would have been half for tax cuts and
half for investment. Yet we squandered that at the expense of the
The use of the debt ceiling as a tactic to get your way on another
issue is playing financial Russian roulette with America's credibility,
with the well-being of the American taxpayer and the full faith and
credit of the United States of America to meet all its obligations. We
have maintained that bond with ourselves and our creditors for over 200
years, and this bill asks us to abandon it now.
How can it be that the party of Ronald Reagan can propose this
legislation? It was Ronald Reagan who said that denigration of the full
faith and credit of the United States would have substantial effects on
the domestic financial markets and the value of the dollar. He is
How can it be the party of Paul Ryan? The chair of our Ways and Means
Committee said that just refusing to vote for the debt ceiling, I don't
think that is a strategy.
Will the debt ceiling be raised? Does it have to be raised? Yes.
Reagan was right then, and Paul Ryan is right now.
Mr. Speaker, I want to point out something that the proponents of
this legislation would prefer to keep in the dark. The entire reason
the debt ceiling must be raised now is to accommodate the budget that
they passed over my strong objection on March 25, 2015. The Price
budget, supported by 228 Republicans and opposed by 182 Democrats,
projected an increase of our debt limit of nearly $2 trillion. Today
that bill has become due, and the folks who supported that budget are
running for the hills on acting on the debt ceiling that is required to
accommodate the budget that they passed.
Mr. Speaker, this House now, as a result of the will of the American
people, is led by a Republican majority. It is a majority that we in
the minority have an obligation to do our best to work with. However,
it is a majority that is raising questions that have never been raised
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Mr. WELCH. Mr. Speaker, they are using debt default and government
shutdown as a tactic to get their way on an issue of concern to some of
them. I admire Speaker Boehner that he put the country first and he put
the House first in not letting this government be shut down over a real
dispute on Planned Parenthood funding. But we have got to get past
this, and the Republican majority has to make a decision whether it is
going to govern or it is going to empower those who believe that
default and shutdown are legitimate tactics to resolve legitimate
debates that we have among us.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot now--we cannot ever--default on our
obligations and our commitment to the American taxpayer to be fiscally
responsible by paying our bills.
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