Utah Republican Sen. Mitt Romney told reporters Thursday that the debt ceiling is an appropriate opportunity to restrain spending, but reiterated that the debt ceiling must be raised. He emphasized that not being able to borrow money would preclude the government from making Social Security payments and funding U.S. troops.
The U.S. government hit its self-imposed debt ceiling last week — months earlier than initially forecast — meaning that Congress must vote to hike the debt ceiling in order for the feds to borrow more money to pay for obligations. The Treasury Department has said it is now taking “extraordinary measures” to keep the United States from defaulting. The moves are estimated to prevent a default on the debt through June or July.
Democrats and the Biden administration have said they want to pass a “clean” debt ceiling bill with no spending adjustments or other budgetary actions. The new Republican majority in the House has vowed to tie spending cuts to a debt ceiling hike. The White House has made it clear it will not negotiate.
Sen. Romney noted that “it’s a Republican House now” and the party wants to rein in spending, so the fight over the debt ceiling is an “appropriate” vehicle for that discussion and both sides should play ball.
“Just saying, ‘Hey, look, we’re not going to talk,’ doesn’t make a lot of sense,” he said.
The senator went on to warn that the debt ceiling needs to be raised in order to pay the government’s bills, from interest on the debt, to military service members’ paychecks, to entitlements.
“This is not just paying interest on our debt,” Romney explained. “It’s also paying Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and veterans and our soldiers. So if we run out money and we’re not allowed to borrow any more money, which is probably going to happen June, July, or perhaps later, but at some point, if we’re not allowed to borrow more money, we can’t make our payment to anyone.”
“This is something which is unacceptable, will not happen, cannot happen,” he continued. “But let’s use this time period as an opportunity to restrain some of our spending.”