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Press Release


Washington, DC – Today, Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries spoke on the House Floor in opposition to the extreme MAGA Republican Default on America Act. Remarks as delivered:  


Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, Mr. Neal, for your extraordinary leadership and continuing to work to elevate values that benefit everyday Americans. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the extreme MAGA Republican Default on America Act. This reckless Republican effort to lead us down the road of a dangerous default will hurt working families, hurt the middle class, hurt all those Americans who aspire to be part of the middle class, hurt young people, hurt seniors, hurt veterans, hurt the poor, the sick and the afflicted, hurt people in urban America and rural America and exurban America and small town America and Appalachia and the heartland of America, hurt the least, he lost and the left behind. The extreme MAGA Republican Default on America Act will hurt everyday Americans. Why? Because you want to jam your reckless, extreme ideology down the throats of the American people in a hostage-taking situation instead of producing a budget. That’s what President Biden has done. You’ve produced a ransom note.

The Default on America Act is a ransom note because effectively what you are saying is: pass our extreme MAGA Republican bill or else America is going to default. Now, we have a responsibility here in the United States Congress to uphold the full faith and credit of the United States of America, to make sure that as a country, we pay our bills. Bills that have already been incurred, not default. And that’s what our responsibility is, not as Democrats or as Republicans, as Americans. That’s why in a previous administration, Democrats – three times – worked with the Trump administration to avoid a default. No gamesmanship, no brinksmanship, no partisanship. Worked with the previous administration, to which we disagreed often, to make sure that America paid its bills, notwithstanding the fact that in our 247-year history, 25% of America’s debt was accumulated during the four years of the Trump administration. But we did our patriotic responsibility to make sure that America would not default on our debt.

But now, with a different president in office, you want to play games, you want to flirt with a default, take us down this dangerous path and you claim it’s all about fiscal responsibility. Give me a break. That’s rhetoric. That’s not what the record shows. As Mr. Neal articulated, this is not about fiscal responsibility. That’s rhetoric. What the record shows is that Democrats are the party of job creation and fiscal responsibility. And Republicans have been the party of tax cuts for the wealthy, the well-off and the well-connected and exploding deficits. Bill Clinton inherited deficits from the previous two administrations. 20 million good-paying jobs were created during the eight years of the Clinton presidency and he eliminated the deficit. In fact, he created a budget surplus. President Barack Obama inherited The Great Recession, fiscal irresponsibility, and 14 million good-paying private sector jobs were created during the presidency of Barack Obama and he reduced the deficit by $1 trillion, took it from $1.5 trillion to $500 billion.

Democrats, the party of job creation and fiscal responsibility. Joe Biden inherited a mess. And what did he do in two years? More than 10 million jobs created – now, that number is over 12 million – and reduced the deficit by $1.7 trillion. What’s the Republican record? Why do you lecture us, lecture America about fiscal responsibility? Mr. Speaker, what is the Republican record? President Reagan comes into office and the first thing that he does is massive tax cuts for the wealthy, the well-off and the well-connected and explodes the deficit. President George W. Bush comes into office 2001, 2003, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, the well-off and the well-connected, two failed wars, a deep recession, explodes the deficit. President Trump comes into office, first thing he does in 2017, massive tax cuts for the wealthy, the well-off and the well-connected. The GOP tax scam, 83% of the benefits going to the wealthiest 1% in America, explodes the deficit. How dare you lecture America about fiscal responsibility when the record shows that Democrats are the party of job creation and reducing deficits and Republicans are the party of tax cuts for the wealthy, the well-off and the well-connected and exploding the deficit. 

So, we’re not going to stand here and allow you to lecture us about fiscal responsibility. What this is is an effort to try to extract deep, painful cuts on everyday Americans. There’s a process for America to pay its bills. It should be seamless. And then there’s a budget process and an appropriations process. That’s where we can have a conversation about future spending, future investments. What should the priorities be? President Joe Biden produced a budget. His budget will actually protect and strengthen Social Security, build an economy that works for everyday Americans and cut the deficit by $3 trillion. We’ve been asking for a Republican budget. Instead of you giving us a budget, you’ve given us a ransom note. That’s what the Default on America Act is. Threatening a dangerous default. Pass it or else. That’s not statesmanship, that’s brinksmanship. And it will cause grave harm to everyday Americans.

The reckless Republican, extreme MAGA Republican, dangerous default effort risks triggering a painful recession that will cost millions of good-paying jobs. This reckless Republican effort, this effort to lead us down a dangerous default will risk crashing the stock market and put in jeopardy the retirement security of millions of older Americans. This reckless Republican effort to lead us down a dangerous default risks exploding costs for everyday Americans. That’s what’s in front of us right now. That’s why we oppose this reckless effort to default on America. This bill is unacceptable, it’s unreasonable, it’s unworkable, it’s unconscionable and it’s un-American. That’s why we oppose it, that’s why we’re urging vote no and that’s why we’re asking you to come together – not as Republicans, but as Americans – to do what has always been done and make sure America pays bills that have already been incurred and avoid a dangerous default.

The full speech can be watched here.