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Biden 'playing Russian roulette' with US finances, says J.D. Vance as GOP presses POTUS to deal

"He's going to drive the American economy off the cliff," said the Ohio Republican senator.

Published: May 3, 2023 11:23pm

Updated: May 3, 2023 11:29pm

Senate Republicans expressed support Wednesday for the 1-year debt limit extension coupled with spending growth limits approved by the GOP-led House last week, while pressing President Biden to negotiate a deal with  House leaders.

"We have divided government," Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) said during a news briefing with other GOP senators. "This is about compromise. This is the democratic process. The president needs to step up. I know he didn't fail civics 101. He knows how this process is supposed to work."

In addition to extending the debt limit, the House bill would revert to fiscal year 2022 domestic spending levels and limit spending growth by 1% per year.

The bill also eliminates many of the green energy tax credits in the Democrats' Inflation Reduction Act and blocks implementation of President Biden's $430 billion student debt forgiveness program. Imposed through an executive order last year without congressional approval, the unilateral loan cancellation has been rejected by two lower courts and is now under review by the Supreme Court.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) urged Republicans not to describe the House debt limit bill as containing "budget cuts."

"We spent way in excess of $6 trillion during the pandemic, 2022 — $6.3 trillion," he said. "Biden wants to spend $6.9 trillion. We understand how insane that is in terms of growth and spending. So what we're trying to do is limit the growth of spending and put us back on some reasonable glide path."

Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) said Senate Republicans "stand in solidarity" with the House GOP and called on Biden to "sit down with House leadership, with Speaker McCarthy, and get this thing done."

GOP senators at the news conference noted the national debt is about equal to the size of the entire U.S. economy as it climbs to $32 trillion.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said spending reform should be tied to a debt limit increase to prevent future record deficits.

"We were $4.5 trillion in terms of what we were spending, borrowing a trillion, you doubled down on it, you want to replace the real economy with a sugar high of more government that you borrow from your kids and grandkids," he said. "Is that a business plan we want for our country?"

"Get to the table," he said, addressing the president. "The House did the responsible thing. You've had a bad business plan. Don't burden future generations with more nonsense." 

Sen. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) shared a similar view.

"Before we raise the limit on the national credit card, we must enact spending reforms to make sure that we don't end up in this exact same place again," he said. "So we're not going to blindly raise the debt ceiling without fixing the problem. It's just time to end the Washington spending."

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said Biden "put it all on House Republicans to come negotiate a deal," which they did.

"He's basically playing Russian roulette with the country's finances," Vance said, "and telling Republicans they need to do exactly what he wants them to do, or he's going to drive the American economy off the cliff. What Kevin McCarthy and House Republicans just did is save the president of the United States from his own failure of leadership."

Leadership, he explained, demands compromise.

"I've heard a lot of criticisms from Democrats about things they don't like in this package," he said. "I guarantee you all 217 Republicans who voted for it didn't like at least one thing in the package, but they came together because paying the country's debts and doing our job as leadership is more important than any single person. Joe Biden should take a cue from congressional Republicans. Show some leadership and come to the table." 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Biden is playing a game of chicken with the U.S. economy.

"There is one man on planet Earth and one man only who can ensure we do not default on our debt," he said. "His name is Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. And here's what a responsible President would stand up and say: 'America will never ever ever default on our debt. Every month, federal tax revenues exceed costs for the interest of the debt.' If the president said we won't default on our debt, we wouldn't. But there's a reason Biden is not saying that. He wants to scaremonger. He wants to scare the stock market. He wants to scare the bond markets."

Cruz predicted that a clean debt ceiling increase without anything attached won't pass Congress. He said the U.S. should not default on its debt but the "present path" that the U.S. government is on is "not sustainable."

Noting that 217 House Republicans voted for the debt limit bill that passed, Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said the Senate GOP wants to help the House move it through the Senate. The chamber is currently controlled by the Democrats 51-49.

The Treasury Department estimated the U.S. would default on its debt by June 1 if the debt ceiling isn't raised.

McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accepted an invitation to meet with Biden on May 9. 

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