Speaker Kevin McCarthy lies about debt limit increases he voted for under Donald Trump
The California Republican blamed Democrats for two bills he helped pass as House majority leader.
Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was asked on Monday why his party voted to suspend the federal debt limit three times under President Donald Trump and is now refusing to do so under President Joe Biden. He responded by falsely claiming the increases were all under Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
McCarthy (R-CA) and President Joe Biden have spent the past several days negotiating over the federal debt limit. Without action by Congress by early June, the U.S. government is likely to default on its debt for the first time. McCarthy and the House Republican majority are demanding massive spending cuts in exchange for a vote to lift the $31.5 trillion ceiling.
At a press conference, CNN’s Manu Raju reminded McCarthy that Congress had raised or suspended the debt limit three times during the previous administration without similar House GOP demands and asked: “There were three times under Trump where the Republicans and Democrats agreed to suspend the debt limit. There was hardly an outcry about cutting spending then. How come you guys didn’t make a big stink about it then?”
McCarthy answered: “There was an outcry, but the outcry was, the speaker was different. It was Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
“But you had leverage in the Senate, you had leverage here,” Raju replied.
You can read her quote. What did she say? She simply said no debt limit will get increased without first negotiating to spend more money. The difference then is, it’s what the Democrats always say. The Democrats think you should spend more money. We have spent too much, and in that place where President Trump had to negotiate with Speaker Pelosi and they spent more money, we voted to make sure to make it happen.
Two of the increases came when Republicans held the House majority and McCarthy was serving as majority leader. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan was House speaker at the time.
The first vote came in September 2017. The GOP-led House and GOP-led Senate suspended the debt limit temporarily and agreed to a short-term budget with emergency hurricane response funding. The legislation passed in the House with 183 Democrats and 133 Republicans voting in favor and 90 Republicans voting against.
The second vote came in February 2018. With 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats in the House voting yes and 67 Republicans joining 119 Democrats in opposition, the House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. The law ended a partial government shutdown, lifted spending caps agreed to under President Barack Obama, and again temporarily suspended the debt limit. Trump tweeted: “Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”
McCarthy voted for both laws. He praised the 2018 bill in a press release, saying, “While this is very, very far from the process the American people deserve, this bill takes an important step to ensure our government, and especially our national defense, averts more short-term funding bills.”
He specifically praised the bill’s increased funding for the military and disaster relief and “to address domestic challenges from the opioid crisis and rare diseases to reform at the Veterans Administration and fixing our crumbling infrastructure.”
Just one of the debt limit increases was implemented as part of a broader agreement between Pelosi, a Republican-led Senate, and Trump, in 2019.
Experts on economic policy say that unless the debt limit is raised or suspended, the U.S. Treasury will run out of money to pay its bills in early June and that such a default would likely cause an economic recession.
Reminded by host Chuck Todd of NBC News’ “Meet the Press” on May 21 that Trump had said in 2019, “I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,” Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) said:
“Well, first of all, he also said the other day, on a rival network, that he said that when he was president, and when asked why he wasn’t saying it now, he said because he’s not president,” Donalds said.
“Do you know how absurd that sounds?” Todd responded.
“That is not absurd. He’s always negotiating, Chuck. He’s always negotiating. That’s what he does.”
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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