The CBC Draws a Line in the Debt Limit Sand

The CBC Draws a Line in the Debt Limit Sand

Congressional Black Caucus members say they cannot support a debt ceiling bill that includes spending cuts and caps.

Published July 28, 2011

Conservative House and Senate Republicans aren’t the only lawmakers who still need convincing about the best approach to ending the debt ceiling stalemate. Democratic members of the Congressional Black Caucus took an official stand on Wednesday, declaring that they won’t support the revised proposal being pushed by Speaker John Boehner and are taking a wait-and-see stand on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan.


The lawmakers are insisting on a clean bill that raises the debt ceiling without any spending cuts.


“It is reckless to play Russian Roulette with our economy and with the solvency of our great nation. We must reduce the deficit with a fair and balanced approach that includes both revenues and spending cuts,” said CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver in a statement. “Until we can achieve such a plan, we must raise the debt ceiling to give the markets certainty, avoid more disarray and prevent irresponsible cuts. We cannot in good conscience support bills that require draconian cuts that disproportionately affect the most vulnerable communities.”


The CBC will represent 30-plus of the “nay” votes that will be cast when Boehner’s bill hits the House floor Thursday afternoon, and they have many concerns about what impact the proposed cuts in Reid’s plan will have on the programs that Black lawmakers and their constituents care most about.


“The Boehner proposal is dead on arrival with the CBC. There’s not a single CBC member that I’ve talked to who would even think about voting for that,” said North Carolina Rep. G.K. Butterfield. “The Reid proposal gets a little bit more interesting, but it’s not where it needs to be. We want to know where the [$1.2 trillion in] cuts are going to fall. We know it’s going to be in the discretionary budget, but is it defense, nondefense or both? We need to know what portion of the cut will be attributable to nondefense discretionary spending and nobody can tell us, so that’s the problem.”


“My phones have been crashing with seniors concerned about their benefits, veterans concerned about their benefits, Pell grants, all of that. We don’t know what impact Reid will have on that. We really don’t have the time to go through all of it and time is not on our side,” he said.


Bishop has also joined a growing chorus of lawmakers who believe that as the clock on the August 2 deadline winds down that President Obama should invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the ceiling. That group includes Rep. David Scott of Georgia, who thinks Obama needs to start dealing with reality.


“It’s time for the president to be bold and decisive and understand that he’s done all that he can do. He’s bent over backwards,” Scott said. “These people don’t want him to succeed. They’ll bring the country down if they think another way would give him success. They see a default as making the president look bad. They don’t want him to be re-elected. He needs to see that."


Related Exclusive Video: White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett on the Debt Limit


Part 1: What happens if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations.
Part 2: As the Black-white wealth gap widens, will core social programs be preserved?
Part 3: How can the Obama administration ensure Americans' needs aren't forgotten?

 (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Written by Joyce Jones


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