FIRST ON FOX – Republicans on the House Budget Committee are asking congressional leaders to include spending controls with any debt ceiling increase, as the July 31 expiration of the debt limit suspension looms.
Republicans for weeks have said they plan to use the fact Congress will be forced to raise the debt limit draw focus to what they see as the country's "spending problem." The Thursday letter highlights what the Republicans say are alarming statistics about the federal government's spending and proposes actions Congress could take to rein that in.
"With record amounts of government spending over the past two years accompanied by historic levels of inflation, in addition to the dramatically changed fiscal conditions of the country over the past five decades, it is imperative for Congress to take meaningful steps now to place our country’s finances on a more sustainable and appropriate path," the letter says.
It cites Congressional Budget Office projections that the deficit this year will be $3 trillion and that the government is projected to spend more than $60 trillion over the next 10 years – without even factoring in Democrats' pending $3.5-trillion plus spending plan.
"Unchecked government spending is increasing inflation across the economy and harming American families – especially those on low and fixed incomes," the letter adds.
It notes that previous debt ceiling increases have included spending controls and suggests some ways that Congress could control its future spending.
Among them are pairing the debt ceiling bill with major federal spending cuts; federal targets for spending-to-GDP ratios; stepping up enforcement of previous spending reforms like Pay-As-You-Go and the Congressional Budget Act; and a balanced budget amendment.
The letter is signed by all 15 Republicans on the House Budget Committee. It's led by Ranking Member Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., and includes high-profile Reps. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.; Chris Jacobs, R-N.Y.; Michael Burgess, R-Texas; Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and others.
"Congress cannot steer this country out of a fiscal crisis with a penny-wise and pound-foolish approach that ignores the unsustainable fiscal trajectory we are currently on," Smith said. "Already we are witnessing the effects of unchecked government spending on our economy with record inflation that is driving up the cost of food, clothing, and energy for American workers and families."
It's addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
McConnell signaled in comments to Punchbowl News this week that Republicans are likely to force Democrats, who hold a majority in both the House and Senate, to do all the work of raising the debt ceiling themselves.
"I can’t imagine there will be a single Republican voting to raise the debt ceiling after what we’ve been experiencing," McConnell told Punchbowl. "I can’t imagine a single Republican in this environment that we’re in now -- this free-for-all for taxes and spending -- to vote to raise the debt limit… I think the answer is they need to put it in the reconciliation bill."
The comments from McConnell, and Republican messaging around the debt ceiling, signal the GOP in at least one issue area returning to its form from the pre-Trump era.
Republicans took great pleasure in slamming former President Barack Obama for his big-spending initiatives but then went silent when the deficit started to increase again under former President Donald Trump.
Nevertheless, the Budget Committee Republicans said they believed their proposals could get "bipartisan bicameral support" and bring more responsibility to the country's finances.
"Based on CBO’s projections demonstrating an unsustainable fiscal path for our country, it is imperative Congress does not forfeit this opportunity to exercise fiscal responsibility and restraint," the letter said.