House Republican leader says debt limit vote must be GOP’s top priority


The most pressing issue in Congress’ upcoming legislative session must be passing a debt limit bill and averting a default, Republican Study Committee Chairman Kevin Hern, R-Okla., wrote in a letter to colleagues on Wednesday. 

“Passage of a strong debt limit bill before the end of the April legislative session must be the chamber’s top priority,” Hern wrote to the group, which includes about 80% of Republicans in the House. “We must work night and day to get it passed to show the American people we can be trusted and force the Senate and White House to answer for their dereliction of duty.”

The GOP has been locked in a stalemate with the White House and Democrats over the $31.38 trillion debt ceiling, which the U.S. bumped up against earlier this year. The Treasury Department began using “extraordinary measures” in January to avoid defaulting on the national debt, but the federal government is expected to run out of cash as early as July unless the debt ceiling is raised. 

The White House is pushing a clean increase in the debt ceiling without any conditions, while Republicans want cuts to government spending in exchange for the increase. 


The Republican Study Committee released a “Debt Limit Playbook” last month that lays out the GOP’s priorities, including reversing recent increases in discretionary spending; freeing up domestic energy capacity by reducing regulatory barriers; examining ways to fight government waste; and establishing “a long-term fiscal control” to restrain the growth of the national debt. 

The White House has accused Republicans of seeking to trim mandatory spending programs like Social Security and Medicare, but the GOP has countered that they only want to cut non-defense discretionary spending. 

US President Joe Biden, right, shakes hands with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said that Republicans may move forward with their own debt limit bill if Democrats refuse to negotiate. 

“We cannot solve the nation’s fiscal problems overnight, and House Republicans are not demanding we do so,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Biden last month. “But we cannot continue to kick the can down the road and ignore America’s ballooning national debt, all while you continue to spend trillions more, including through unaccountable executive fiat.”

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