Alabama lawmakers push back against Biden as debt default deadline looms

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 6:59 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - Two Republican members of Alabama’s congressional delegation said Monday that President Joe Biden should negotiate in good faith over the debt limit.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the nation could default on its debt as early as June 1 if Congress does not vote to raise the debt ceiling, currently $31.4 trillion. With a high-stakes meeting set for Tuesday between congressional leaders and Biden, the two sides remain far apart.

U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) downplayed the possibility of default, notwithstanding the president’s insistence on a “clean” bill to raise the debt limit, without no spending cuts or other provisions.

“We will work something out,” he said at an event celebrating the Airbus assembly plant in Mobile. “The president says a lot of things that he won’t do, and he winds up doing it. We will get something worked out.”

Experts have warned that defaulting on the debt would have catastrophic effects on the economy. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Monday likened it to following through on personal obligations, like buying a car or a house.

“If you buy a car, you are expected to pay the monthly payment,” she said at a White House press briefing. “If you buy a home, you are expected to pay the mortgage every month. … Let’s look at Congress for a second. This is spending that they’ve already done.”

Asked if he would be willing to push the nation into default if the president does not budge, Carl said: “We’re not going to get there. No elected officials on want us to get there.”

U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery), who attended the same Airbus even, told reporters that she favors the approach of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

“They got in there. They had tough conversations,” she said. “They said we have to be responsible with taxpayer dollars.”

The bill passed by the House included spending cuts and provisions designed to encourage more domestic energy production. But it faces dim prospects in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the present has rejected it, as well.

Britt said the country cannot continue to pile up debt.

“That’s not only fiscally irresponsible, that is morally irresponsible,” she said. “We have to say enough is enough to rein in spending and create accountability.”

Britt, who signed on to a letter with other Senate Republicans opposing a no-strings-attached vote to raise the debt ceiling, said Biden needs to acknowledge political reality.

“He has a Republican House,” she said. “He does not have the 60 votes he needs in the Senate. He has to be a true leader, which means he comes to the table and has a tough conversation to figure out how we move forward.”

Britt promoted her bipartisan bill to protect children from social media by setting age limits and prohibiting companies from using computer algorithms to target children.

The senator also called for more aggressive border enforcement to block fentanyl as COVID-era restrictions on border crossings and asylum end in three days.

“I am deeply disturbed by Joe Biden’s lack of leadership,” she said.

Britt noted that Biden’s budget calls for a 1 percent cut for the Department of Homeland Security even while he proposes massive increases for other federal agencies.

“He plussed up the EPA 19 percent but yet did not give us the tools that we needed to secure our border to combat fentanyl and to really enforce our existing immigration laws,” she said.