Representative Adriano Espaillat Remarks on Debt Ceiling Negotiations

Government and Politics

January 29, 2023

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representative Adriano Espaillat (NY-13) delivered the following remarks on the U.S. House floor on the continued debt ceiling negotiations.

The following are remarks by Rep. Espaillat, as prepared for delivery:

“Last Thursday, America’s outstanding debt hit its limit. Treasury Secretary Yellen has warned leadership of the irreparable harm that will come to the US economy if the debt ceiling is not raised or suspended.

"To avoid defaulting on our loans, the Secretary has been forced to slow investments into the retirement of federal employees and health benefits of postal workers.

“Let me remind you, Congress has acted 78 separate times to permanently raise, temporarily extend, or revise the definition of the debt limit – 49 times under Republican presidents and 29 times under Democratic presidents. Congressional leaders in both parties have recognized that this is necessary.

"And if the ceiling is not raised, the penalties won’t stop there. For the 66 million Americans that receive Social Security checks every month and the more than 63 million Americans that rely on Medicare for care– their benefits will be cut.

"Interest rates, that have already reached historic heights, will continue to increase, affecting car loans, credit cards, home mortgages, and small business investments. Tax refunds will be delayed and above all, we face a looming recession that will devastate our economy and result in skyrocketing unemployment and homelessness.

"And let’s be clear, that raising the debt ceiling is not giving the green light for new spending. It is simply ensuring that we can pay for the obligations that we have already made. Instead of working to resolve the issue, Republicans continue to hold our economy hostage. To threaten defaulting on our debt to secure spending cuts is dangerous and shows little regard for the American people.

"And we’ve seen how this plays out – we were in this exact situation in 2011. When Republicans tried to pull this stunt, the delay in negotiations resulted in the federal government’s first ever downgrade in credit rating. The Dow Jones fell nearly 2000 points and it is estimated that it raised borrowing costs for the government by $1.3 billion and estimated that if would raise borrowing costs by $18.9 billion over ten years. What good were those budget cuts?

"I want Americans to remember that Republicans are gambling on: Your money. Your benefits. Your livelihood.

"I urge my colleagues to act swiftly and without unnecessary delays or attempts to score political points. Our nation’s financial stability and our constituents depend on it. Thank you, Mister/Madam Speaker. I yield back."