Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and 42 of his GOP colleagues sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Saturday stating that the lawmakers will not vote for a debt ceiling increase without spending cuts and structural budget reform.
In the letter, Lee and the other senators wrote, “The Senate Republican conference is united behind the House Republican conference in support of spending cuts and structural budget reform as a starting point for negotiations on the debt ceiling.”
“Our economy is in free fall due to unsustainable fiscal policies. This trajectory must be addressed with fiscal reforms. Moreover, recent Treasury projections have reinforced the urgency of addressing the debt ceiling,” the Republican senators added.
“The House has taken a responsible first step in coming to the table with their proposals. It is imperative that the president now do the same.”
3/ The House has taken a responsible first step in coming to the table with their proposals. It is imperative that the president now do the same. As such, we will not be voting for cloture on any bill that raises the debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) May 6, 2023
Last month, the GOP House passed the Limit, Save, Grow Act. The bill suspends the nation’s debt ceiling through March 2024 or until the debt increases by $1.5 trillion, whichever comes first, in exchange for setting fiscal year 2024 discretionary federal spending at fiscal year 2022 levels.
With Congress under Democratic control and with President Joe Biden in the White House, the federal government spent $6.27 trillion overall during FY 2022. That is up from $4.4 trillion during the Trump administration in FY 2019 prior to the pandemic and not far below the $6.6 trillion spent in FY 2020 during the height of it.
Biden’s FY 2024 budget submitted to Congress in March calls for $6.8 trillion in spending, so Republicans are looking to cut that amount by about $500 billion.
The federal deficit during the first year of his presidency was $2.8 trillion in FY 2021, fueled in large measure by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed shortly after Biden took office. Last year the deficit was $1.4 trillion.
The Congressional Budget Office projected in February the deficit for the current fiscal year will be approximately $1.4 trillion and increase to $1.65 trillion in 2024 based on current spending levels.
Concerning the GOP lawmakers’ letter to Schumer, Lee told Fox News host Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, “We’ve got not only the Republican Conference in the Senate backing what the Republicans in the House passed the week before last. We’ve also now got a solid block of Republicans, more than enough to block any so-called clean debt ceiling bill from moving forward.”
43 Senate Republicans have signed a letter refusing to advance any bill that raises the debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms.
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) May 7, 2023
Biden and Schumer want a “clean” debt ceiling increase from Congress with no budget cuts.
Lee explained that in order to invoke cloture so a bill can be voted on and move through the Senate, Schumer needs 60 of the 100 senators, which he cannot get given the 43 Republicans who have signed on to Lee’s letter.
What the letter also means is that neither the Senate — with sufficient votes to overcome a GOP filibuster — nor the House will be supporting Biden’s position.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) is leading a group of 43 Republican senators who sent a letter to Sen. Schumer saying “we’re not going to pass a clean debt ceiling increase.”
They want spending cuts tied to the bill.
43 would be enough to kill a clean debt limit increase in the Senate. pic.twitter.com/bJPCUt9sd2
— The Recount (@therecount) May 8, 2023
Lee further noted the letter, which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has signed, gives GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy a great bargaining position from which to start when he meets with Biden Tuesday concerning raising the debt ceiling.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in a letter to McCarthy last week that the federal government will not have enough money to pay its bills as soon as June 1.
Tea Party Patriots Action commended the Republicans for working to address the federal government’s out of control spending.
“Washington spends too much and steals too much from future generations, and it must stop. We thank Senator Lee, Leader McConnell, and all the senators who signed this letter. This letter will give Speaker McCarthy maximum leverage when he meets with President Biden on Tuesday,” TPPA Honorary Chairman Jenny Beth Martin said.
“The debt ceiling plan House Republicans passed last month takes a responsible path to get spending and inflation under control,” she added. “Biden should work constructively with congressional Republicans to adopt a much-needed course correction and start putting our fiscal house in order.”