View the full press conference here

WASHINGTON — Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) members gathered today to sound the alarm on the Republicans’ reckless tactics driving the United States economy toward default and their refusal to cut the deficit by making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, instead forcing working people to foot the bill.

Click here to view the press conference.

The press conference included remarks from CPC Chair Pramila Jayapal (WA-07); Deputy Chair Ilhan Omar (MN-05); Whip Greg Casar (TX-35); Deputy Whip Chris Deluzio (PA-17); CPC member and Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee James P. McGovern (MA-02); 

and CPC members Representatives Jan Schakowsky (IL-09); Jerrold Nadler (NY-12); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14); Barbara Lee (CA-12), CPC Chair Emeritus; and Jared Huffman (CA-02), CPC Vice Chair at Large. The full press conference can be viewed here.

Remarks from CPC Chair Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), as prepared:

“Good afternoon. Today, the United States is closer to default than we have ever been in our history for one reason: extreme Republican recklessness. It is clear that Republicans have no interest in cutting the deficit. 

“Their focus is on cutting taxes for their wealthiest benefactors: big corporations and billionaires who finance their campaigns. And they want YOU — working people across the country — to foot the bill. 

“The Progressive Caucus is here to sound the alarm about the harm coming for the working families if Republicans are successful. 

“Please understand: none of this is normal. Congress has raised the debt ceiling 78 times since 1960 — 49 under Republican presidents and 29 under Democrats. Spending is negotiated during that budget and appropriations process. 

“Raising the debt ceiling is separate to implementing what Congress already passed. It’s a constitutional obligation, essential to protecting people’s pensions, health care, and social security. 

“Driving us all off the default cliff is bad enough in and of itself. But let’s call out why they’re sowing this chaos and catastrophe.

“President Biden and Democrats have put forward clear proposals to cut the deficit — but Republicans' posturing has nothing to do with that. Why won’t they discuss raising revenue? Why won’t they reverse their deficit-exploding, unfunded Trump tax cuts, which added nearly $2 trillion to the deficit with nearly half of the benefits benefitting the top 5 percent? Why won’t they cut the bloated defense budget?

“Because it’s not actually about the national debt. It’s about keeping the cash flowing to the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations.

“The Speaker claimed today that Democrats are singularly responsible for the deficit. In reality, Trump oversaw the third-biggest deficit increase of any administration. He was beaten out only by George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln — Bush, who led the U.S. into two foreign conflicts financed almost entirely through debt, and Lincoln, who fought the Civil War. 

“It’s been reported that the Speaker rejected revenue raising proposals, but let’s be specific. I spoke to the White House last night, and I can share today what they told me: the Republicans rejected three trillion dollars worth of policies that could have gone towards deficit reduction.

“Republicans rejected ending tax subsidies to Big Oil — an industry that pockets $200 billion in profit last — to bring in $31 billion for taxpayers. They rejected closing the carried interest and other tax loopholes that would have raised more than $60 billion dollars. They rejected increasing the number of drugs that Medicare negotiates prices for, bringing down drug prices for YOU and saving $200 billion. 

“Republicans rejected a billionaire minimum tax and a corporate global minimum tax that would bring in almost $1 TRILLION dollars. They rejected raising taxes on large corporations from the outrageous cut Trump instituted. Altogether: $3 TRILLION dollars in savings. 

“Instead? They want YOU to foot the bill for these tax cuts. They’re not negotiating at all. Unreasonable. Extreme. Cruel. 

“Don’t just take it from me. Yesterday, Matt Gaetz said: Republicans ‘don't feel like we should negotiate with our hostage.’ 

“Who exactly is that hostage? It’s the American economy. It’s seniors. Parents. Kids. Veterans. People with disabilities. Teachers. The poorest Americans.

“From Day 1, progressives have been the loudest voices defending working families from Republicans' extreme behavior. The CPC publicly called for raising the debt ceiling last fall and our members were the first to sign the discharge petition. We will continue to call out and reject the Republicans’ reckless, hostage taking.

“Republicans want you to believe there are only two choices: Their extreme bill that would make YOU pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest, OR Default. Both are catastrophic.

“Don’t buy it. There are other options. Five Republicans who actually care about working people could join Democrats in signing the discharge petition so that we can raise the debt ceiling and defuse the ticking time bomb. 

“They could agree to some — any — revenue raising policies, so it’s the wealthy and big corporations reducing the deficit by paying their fair share. And if necessary, the President can take unilateral action to avoid default by acting according to the 14th amendment and pay these bills. 

“Let’s be clear, if we default there is one person to blame: the Speaker of the House.”