Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan is part of a group of 43 Republicans who put Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on notice this weekend: They are committed to opposing raising the national debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski did not sign the letter, and neither did Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, of Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.
As the national debt has soared since President Barack Obama took office, the U.S. Treasury Department has borrowed more money to pay for government spending. The curb on this borrowing is known as the legislative debt ceiling. The nation is at the point where the Treasury Department has spent the maximum amount authorized by Congress, and lawmakers must vote to suspend or raise the limit on borrowing.
“It is now clear that Senate Republicans aren’t going to bail out Biden and Schumer, they have to negotiate. I thank my colleagues for joining my effort to emphasize this point in the clearest possible terms,” said Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who led the group.
The nation’s economy is in free fall due to unsustainable fiscal policies, the group’s letter said. The total national debt stands at over $31.7 trillion. In fact, the U.S. government has averaged nearly $1 trillion in deficit spending every year since 2001.
“This trajectory must be addressed with fiscal reforms. Moreover, recent Treasury projections have reinforced the urgency of addressing the debt ceiling. The House has taken a responsible first step in coming to the table with their proposals. It is imperative that the president now do the same.
“As such, we will not be voting for cloture on any bill that raises the debt ceiling without substantive spending and budget reforms,” the letter concluded.
The letter is signed by Senators Mike Lee, John Barrasso, Marsha Blackburn, John Boozman, Mike Braun, Ted Budd, Shelley Moore Capito, Bill Cassidy, Katie Britt, John Cornyn, Tom Cotton, Mike Crapo, Ted Cruz, Kevin Cramer, Steve Daines, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer, Lindsey Graham, Chuck Grassley, Bill Hagerty, John Hoeven, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Ron Johnson, James Lankford, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, Mitch McConnell, Jerry Moran, Markwayne Mullin, Pete Ricketts, James Risch, Marco Rubio, Mike Rounds, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, Eric Schmitt, Dan Sullivan, John Thune, Thom Tillis, Tommy Tuberville, J.D. Vance, Roger Wicker, and Todd Young.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, majority leader, said the Senate might consider a bill that only raises the debt ceiling but does not address the demands of these Republicans. With a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Schumer needs nine Republicans to get to the 60-vote threshold to raise the ceiling.
At this point, he probably cannot count on all of the six who did not sign the letter but who are fiscal hawks, such as Sen. Paul, Sen. Kennedy, and Sen. Hawley. He may be able to count on Sens. Murkowski, Romney, and Collins, who often side with Democrats, but they would not be enough to raise the national debt.
Read up on deficit spending at this Treasury Department guide.