WASHINGTON, DC – Today Congressman Jamie Raskin (MD-08) released the following statement on H.R. 3746.

“We must make sure that H.R. 3746 passes tonight to avert a calamitous national default. But we must also make sure that this is the last time that the government of the United States is ever held hostage by an extremist faction in Congress which threatens to force a devastating fiscal default on American society if it does not get to dismantle social programs and destroy environmental protection.

“This whole exercise was not just shockingly dangerous but antithetical to the Constitution, which prevents the government from repudiating and defaulting on its debt. The Fourteenth Amendment provides that ‘the validity of the public debt…shall not be questioned,’ and the Fifth Amendment states that private property shall not be ‘taken for public use without just compensation.’ President Biden always had the duty and the power to pay Social Security and Medicare recipients, the nation’s bondholders and federal workers because Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution provides the president ‘shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed’ and all of the debts incurred by our government were by virtue of lawful Congressional enactments and appropriations. The 1917 ‘debt ceiling’ statute cannot be deployed to nullify dozens of modern statutes, much less to override the Constitution of the United States. 

“I salute President Biden and his team for negotiating in good-faith and successfully repelling the most ruinous demands of Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the MAGA extremists he has empowered. President Biden’s negotiators—Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young, Counselor to the President Steve Ricchetti and Office of Legislative Affairs Director Louisa Terrell—made the best of an awful situation and shielded us from the egregious efforts advanced by the Trump-MAGA hardliners to undermine much of the progress America made in the 20th Century. The White House team protected Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid and—even more amazingly—the Democrats’ landmark legislative accomplishments from the 117th Congress, including the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, the PACT Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This may be the best bill we could have achieved under the circumstances, but it remains the deeply imperfect product of a fundamentally flawed process. Instead of cleanly raising the debt ceiling to pay the bills already incurred by Congress and past administrations—which we Democrats attempted to do with our discharge petition—Speaker Kevin McCarthy opted for a crude legislative shakedown. This bill shields wealthy tax cheats by slashing billions of dollars from enforcement by the Internal Revenue Service, fast-tracks the dubious Mountain Valley Pipeline by canceling out judicial review over it (an arguably unconstitutional maneuver), jeopardizes nutrition assistance benefits for some of the most vulnerable Americans, and undermines some significant and longstanding environmental protections. 

“The MAGA-driven Republicans have demonstrated that they do not care about budget deficits or the national debt. Nearly 25% of our total national debt accumulated from George Washington to Joe Biden was racked up under former President Donald Trump, and his party gave the wealthiest Americans a $1 trillion tax cut. In these negotiations, they refused to repeal any of these tax cuts for the wealthy to reduce the deficit, and they eagerly slashed billions of dollars from the IRS enforcement budget to protect tax cheats, thereby driving us more deeply into debt.

“Meantime, McCarthy’s hostages in these ransom negotiations were all of the Americans who depend on their hard-earned Social Security checks, everyone on Medicare and Medicaid, veterans who need their federal benefits to get by, and children who would go hungry without federally supported school lunches and SNAP benefits. The threatened default would have induced a global financial crisis and a job-killing recession that would have demolished the quality of life for tens of millions of Americans for the foreseeable future.

“We need to make sure this kind of legislative extortion never happens again. When Democrats return to power, it must be a paramount priority to repeal the debt ceiling as we know it and reinforce the constitutional principle that no partisan faction has the power to place our entire federal government and the world’s largest economy in a fiscal hostage crisis.”