Republican senators had a message for President Joe Biden while addressing the national debt and quickly approaching debt ceiling deadline during a Wednesday press conference: He “will negotiate.”
“President Biden needs to know, absolutely he will negotiate, and it’s better to start now,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters, pushing back on the Biden administration’s stance that the talks surrounding the debt ceiling are “not a negotiation.”
Paul added that the greatest security threat to the nation is the debt and that no conservatives and no Republicans in the House of Representatives will vote to raise the debt ceiling “without significant budget reform.”
The growing U.S. national debt stands at $31.4 trillion while the federal government’s annual budget is currently operating at $6.3 trillion, nearly $2 trillion more than what it spent annually prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, the U.S. will need to raise the debt ceiling by June in order to avoid “irreparable harm to the U.S. economy, the livelihoods of all Americans and global financial stability.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who spoke immediately before Paul, called Biden’s position on the debt ceiling “unreasonable and ridiculous” and vowed that the Republican conferences in both houses of Congress will use every possible “lever point” to stop the massive spending contributing to the rising debt and historic inflation plaguing the nation.
“We are at a moment in time, because the American people elected a Republican majority in the House, where we have an opportunity to stop the madness. And I believe it is incumbent on that Republican majority, and on the Republicans in the Senate, to use every lever point we have to stop the out-of-control spending that is driving inflation, that is punishing hard-working Americans across this country,” Cruz said.
Cruz said the debt ceiling has historically been “the most effective lever point to force meaningful concessions” on budget and debt reform, and he called on members of the press to avoid reporting White House talking points that Republicans wanted to default on the national debt.
“Nobody standing here wants to default on the debt. Let me be absolutely clear and unequivocal: The United States of America should never, ever, ever default on its debt,” he said.
“There is one principle person in this town that is talking about a default in the debt, and that is Joe Biden. Joe Biden wants to threaten a default in the debt. He wants to scare the markets, and frankly, he’s counting on you all,” he added.
Cruz went on to cite instances in which he said Republicans were able to force legislation to address the budget and debt, including the Budget Control Act of 2011, and he reiterated that it was not the position of Republicans that the debt ceiling would never be raised.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked earlier this month about debt ceiling negotiations and whether Biden is willing to “cut any spending” or would be willing to negotiate with Republicans who “want to cut spending as part of a debt limit deal.”
“Look, as you’ve heard us say before, we will not be doing any negotiation over the debt ceiling,” Jean-Pierre said.
“What we’re saying is that … this should be done without conditions,” she added. “In the past … we have seen both Republicans and Democrats come together to deal with this issue. It is one of the basic items that Congress has to deal with, and it should be done without condition. So, there’s going to be no negotiation over it. This is something that must get done.”
“It is not my position that we will never raise the debt ceiling — rather what the rules say is we will use the debt ceiling as leverage to force real and meaningful structural reforms to fix the underlying problem,” Cruz said. “[It] doesn’t have to be a total solution for everything, but it has to be real and meaningful progress.”
Fox News’ Peter Kasperowicz and Kyle Morris contributed to this report.