Sep 28, 2021
House GOP Press Conference on Raising Debt Ceiling Transcript
House Republican leaders held a press conference on September 28, 2021. They discussed the debt limit and reconciliation bill. Read the transcript of the news briefing here.
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Mike Johnson: (00:02)
Thank you all for joining us today. I’m Mike Johnson, I’m the vice chairman of the House Republican Conference, and I’ll kick things off.
Mike Johnson: (00:08)
Folks, our country should be on the rebound right now. When they took office, President Biden and the House Democrats inherited a turning tide, an economy rebounding from the pandemic, and a country that was eager to unite.
Mike Johnson: (00:22)
Today, however, it’s a very different thing. It’s difficult to imagine how much worse they could have botched our country’s recovery. During what should have been a time of hope and optimism and recovery, our country instead faces a multitude of crises.
Mike Johnson: (00:36)
We’ve got an economic stagnation problem at home. We have a raging border crisis close to home. And of course, now we have foreign policy crises around the globe.
Mike Johnson: (00:46)
In the face of all this, the Democrats in this house are doing everything they possibly can to push through a $5.5 trillion spending package. It would be higher taxes, higher spending spread over two bills that are linked together by the House Democrat leadership.
Mike Johnson: (01:02)
The first is called an infrastructure bill, and it’s not that at all. It’s a spending bill, and only a fraction of the spending would actually go to things that regular, everyday Americans and all of us regard as infrastructure.
Mike Johnson: (01:14)
Negotiators assured us the bill would be paid for it, but it’s not. They insisted it would not raise taxes, but it obviously does. Nowhere in the legislation are there any regulatory, permitting, labor, or energy policy reforms that would streamline the broken bureaucratic processes that kill infrastructure projects. Remember, this bill is all spending and no reform.
Mike Johnson: (01:37)
Most concerning of all. We were told that passage of this bill would satisfy the spending appetite of enough Democrats to impede passage of their separate $4.3 trillion party-line spending bill. But it will not.
Mike Johnson: (01:49)
We know this is true because all 50 Democrats in the Senate, including Bernie Sanders, still voted for it. And house Democrats are fighting about whether to consider either the $1.2 trillion spending bill, or the $4.3 trillion spending bill in the absence of the other. Almost no one believes that’s possible.
Mike Johnson: (02:09)
House Republicans would have supported a standalone bill that was paid for and actually targeted to our nation’s infrastructure needs, but we cannot support legislation that does more to pave the way for reckless Biden-Schumer-Pelosi tax and spend agendas, than it does to pay for our roads.
Mike Johnson: (02:26)
The second bill, well, the Democrats still don’t know what they want. It could include mass amnesty, it could include taxes on prescription drugs, or a carbon tax, or any number of other terrible provisions. The one thing they do know is that they want to spend $4.3 trillion of taxpayer funds at a time when our national debt is about to exceed $29 trillion.
Mike Johnson: (02:49)
Democrats have a mere three seat majority in the House; there’s a 50-50 deadlock in the Senate. Does any objective person think their mandate is to ram through the most partisan, most expensive legislative package in the history of this country using the slimmest majority possible, and before they even tell the American people what’s in it? We say no way.
Mike Johnson: (03:11)
If they hadn’t just voted to legalize abortion up until the moment of birth, I’d say this was the most ridiculous thing we’ve ever seen. The American people do not want this, and House Republicans are going to do everything we can to make sure this charade is stopped. With that, I’m happy to yield to the ranking member on the House Committee on the Budget, Mr. Jason Smith.
Jason Smith: (03:32)
Good morning. I’m here today because of what speaker Pelosi announced last night, she announced to the world what we already know, is that she put herself in a box, that the legislative crisis that’s before her is won by her own creation, that she needs the progressive’s to bail her out of this situation of this week.
Jason Smith: (03:59)
That is why at 8:23 Thursday evening, the Budget Committee noticed up to have a hearing at two o’clock on Saturday, two o’clock on Saturday. Took eight hours to mark up for $4.3 trillion spending bill with only 1% of the total spending that has been scored by CBO, 1%.
Jason Smith: (04:25)
She moved this ahead, moved it forward because she wanted to show some kind of fake momentum with the progressive’s that she was still having the reconciliation bill tied in with the infrastructure bill. This $4.3 trillion spending bill is the largest spending bill to ever be brought up in Congress. It is the largest tax increase bill ever brought up in Congress.
Jason Smith: (04:55)
We are facing the highest inflation that we have since 1981. This will only fuel the fire of inflation. This bill breaks the president’s tax pledge that you will not raise taxes on people making less than $400,000. And this rewards their political friends, allies, and donors, their wealthy environmentalists. And people ask why would they reward the wealthy?
Jason Smith: (05:31)
Over $70 million was used by Wall Street to defeat Donald Trump. The 10 most wealthy legislative districts and all of Congress are held by Democrats. They are the party of the wealthy, that’s who they represent, you can’t deny it. T.
Jason Smith: (05:52)
hat’s why this bill provides that if you make $800,000 a year, you can get huge luxury tax credits for your electric vehicles. That’s why you can get tax breaks for your electric bikes. That’s why millionaire’s kids can get free college. That’s why people who make a half a million dollars a year can get tax payer paid family leave. This piece of legislation is all loaded of helping the wealthy at the expense of the working class. It’s a disaster, she has her hands full, we’ll see what happens this week.
Jason Smith: (06:35)
I have to turn it over to our wonderful leader of the House Appropriations Committee, Ms. Kay Granger.
Kay Granger: (06:42)
Thank you. The government could shut down literally in a few days, it’s a terrible position to be in, and it’s completely unnecessary. A government shut down would impact military readiness, border security, and so many programs Americans rely on.
Kay Granger: (07:01)
We could have passed a bipartisan continuing resolution last week, but the Democrats attached it to the debt limit. The Democrats did this even though Republicans were clear we oppose tying these two bills together.
Kay Granger: (07:15)
We’ll now see what the Senate sends back before the fiscal year ends on Thursday. But one thing is certain, the Democrats must take responsibility and address the debt limit themselves. With total control of the government, they have the ability to do that. I hope the Senate will send back a CR that both sides can support, but it cannot be tied to the debt limit. And I introduce fellow Texan, Beth Van Duyne. Speak to us if [inaudible 00:07:45].
Beth Van Duyne: (07:49)
This bill that claims to help is actually doing a lot more damage. It includes $180 billion in payoff offsets, which roughly equates to about a $400 million shortfall. This will open the flood gates for massive spending and tax increases on working families as the increased inflation continues to damage our economy.
Beth Van Duyne: (08:12)
Inflation is causing insurmountable supply chain problems. And this administration is refusing to address port congestion, which is causing a nightmare for builders and construction companies. We’re going to have not tools to build back better. All Democrats are doing is throwing money at the issue to check a box, with no understanding or plan to actually make infrastructure in this country work better for Americans.
Beth Van Duyne: (08:40)
Even if we pass this bill, this administration is turning a blind eye to the supply chain problems that are clogging our ports and crippling our supply chain.
Beth Van Duyne: (08:50)
As you’ve heard Republicans want a plan for infrastructure investment, but this is a desperate administration looking for a win to distract Americans from the Biden-caused crises, both home and abroad, while opening the flood gates in trillions more in spending to come by passing this bill.
Beth Van Duyne: (09:10)
There’s no regulatory reforms at all, which means no improvement, which is going to cause projects to be completed, delayed, plagued with budget overruns, and weighed down in more bureaucratic red tape.
Beth Van Duyne: (09:25)
It includes $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations where we’re picking winners and losers in this area, and $70 billion in investments for transmissions and battery storage. This is a cost that the private sector can and should bear. It’s a handout disproportionately affecting the wealthy. Government will not keep up with the speed of innovation that will happen the private sector and will end up paying large sums for outdated technology.
Beth Van Duyne: (09:51)
Probably the worst part of this bill is only $110 billion of the new spending in this package actually goes toward needed improvements in roads, bridges, and major projects that the American people generally consider infrastructure.
Beth Van Duyne: (10:06)
In Texas 24 we need new bridges. We have to have work done on our highways. We need investment in our economy, which supports our airports. We do not need overpriced transportation vanity projects, and unaccountable billions going to superfluous programs. We need real change and investment in the infrastructure that allows our economy to grow and thrive. Thank you.
Speaker 5: (10:33)
Good morning. This week we’re going to see an epic battle play out between free market capitalism and big government socialism, that’s what’s at stake. And clearly when you see Speaker Pelosi’s actions over these last few months, it’s been to massively grow the size of government to appease her radical socialist base. And I think you’re seeing the American people across the country express their anger and frustration because they’re paying the cost of it already with higher inflation.
Speaker 5: (11:01)
Inflation is through the roof for so many things that people buy every day. Gasoline’s up over 40%. When you go to the grocery store you’re paying 30 or 40% more. If you want to buy a new appliance for your house, you’re going to wait months and months and still pay a higher cost for it.
Speaker 5: (11:17)
So President Biden’s already broken his promise that his actions will not impact the paychecks of people making under $400,000 a year because the hardest working Americans and the lowest income Americans are the ones paying the biggest cost for the inflation already created by President Biden’s failed agenda.
Speaker 5: (11:36)
And now they want to double down on it and put it on steroids. This will be inflation on steroids, tax increases like we’ve never seen before in the history of our country.
Speaker 5: (11:46)
The package that speaker Pelosi is still trying to bring to the floor this week would be over five-and-a-half trillion dollars of new taxes and spending, much of it added straight to the deficit, all under the name of leveling the playing field.
Speaker 5: (12:03)
Tell that to hard working families who are already paying too much in taxes, who know that, for example, President Biden’s energy tax in this bill, a tax on natural gas is a new tax, it would hit the lowest income families the hardest. It would probably add about 14% to everybody’s household electricity bills if they use natural gas. That is a violation of President Biden’s promise to those workers, in many cases who make less than $50,000 a year, they’re going to pay a higher cost for President Biden’s agenda.
Speaker 5: (12:34)
We actually tried to take that tax out of the bill, and on a party-line vote every Democrat voted to continue charging new taxes to families on their electricity bills. It would hit hospitals too, increasing the cost of healthcare. We tried to protect hospitals from having to pay these higher taxes, which will be passed on to families in the form of higher health costs, which by the way, would be another violation of President Biden’s promises that your healthcare costs wouldn’t go up.
Speaker 5: (13:02)
Over and over again we’ve seen broken promises, and the American people are fed up. That’s why we are fighting against all of this radical socialist spending and these new taxes that are going to hurt families in America, that are going to be a gift to countries like China.
Speaker 5: (13:17)
Because if you think about it, you look at the Green New Deal policies that are in this radical spending bill, they exempt China from the major provisions of these bills. China is right now the country getting the most new carbon, they’re opening up 300 coal plants this year. America was reducing carbon emissions through ingenuity, we were making more things in America, we were bringing jobs back to America, we were growing our middle class under President Trump.
Speaker 5: (13:47)
And we did that by lowering taxes, by having regulations that actually make sense, that don’t go out to pick winners and losers, and they want to reverse all of that and then exempt China. And President Biden’s already shown he’s willing to trade American jobs and give them away to foreign countries when he killed the Keystone pipeline on day one of his presidency; it’s one of the reasons Americans are paying 40% more for gasoline at the pump because President Biden’s going after American energy, but he hasn’t gone after all energy.
Speaker 5: (14:18)
He was just a few weeks ago begging OPEC and Russia to produce more oil at the same time that he blocked American companies from producing oil here at home, where we actually have a better environmental standards than in any OPEC country or in Russia. And yet he green-lighted a pipeline so that Russia could create jobs in their country while killing jobs in the United States.
Speaker 5: (14:38)
It’s catching up with the president. People are paying attention and people are fed up. They don’t want to pay for all of this big government socialism. And yet that’s where we are. That’s what’s going to play out this week.
Speaker 5: (14:49)
There’s crisis after crisis that created by President Biden, and he’s the one that should step up and say, “Enough is enough,” and start working with Republicans, start following through on his promise.
Speaker 5: (15:00)
Here in the House, Sam Graves, the leader of the Transportation Committee has been wanting to work on a bipartisan infrastructure bill, and has been shut out of the process from day one because they want to go forward with their go-it-alone bill. In their bill, by the way, they have over $100 billion in Cylindra-style slush funds. Slush funds are not infrastructure, yet that’s part of their new spending. That’s not where we need to be going.
Speaker 5: (15:26)
We should be focused on helping fight for those small businesses, for those families who are struggling, we should be focusing on lowering inflation, not spending trillions more dollars in new taxes and new spending that will only increase inflation and hit the lowest income families the hardest.
Speaker 5: (15:44)
So that’s what we’re going to be focused on this week. We’re going to continue fighting for those hard working families and against this big government socialist agenda. With that, be happy to take some questions, yep.
Speaker 6: (15:53)
Two questions, the first one is would Republicans be willing to support a clean CR if it’s decoupled from the debt ceiling?
Speaker 5: (16:00)
Well we tried to get the CR decoupled from the debt ceiling last week as Kate Granger just talked about, and the leadership on the Democrat side had an important decision to make. They had some of the most radical elements of their far left that did not want Israel to get the replenishment of their Iron Dome missiles.
Speaker 5: (16:17)
This is a defensive system that was a partnership between the United States and Israel to help protect them against terrorist missiles coming into Israel, which by the way, thousands of terrorist missiles came in from Gaza earlier this year, they needed to replenish those missiles. And that was in the bill and their far left radicals said, “We don’t want to support Israel and have that funding there, so take it out.”
Speaker 5: (16:39)
We said, “We don’t want the debt ceiling in there,” because we had agreed last year on budget numbers that paid for the relief packages under COVID, done under President Trump, all of those were negotiated, they were all bipartisan and they were all passed in a bipartisan way.
Speaker 5: (16:54)
This year, they’ve gone it alone on all their spending, and yet they want us to pay the debt for it. And so we said, “You’ve got to pull out the debt ceiling and we would support the rest of it.” And when they had that decision to make, instead of jettisoning the debt ceiling, they threw Israel under the bus and jettisoned the Iron Dome funding. It was a disgraceful moment, and ultimately we stood up and said, “We insist that you help support Israel replenish the Iron Dome missiles.”
Speaker 6: (17:19)
So Republicans would support a [inaudible 00:17:21]?
Speaker 5: (17:22)
We’ve said, “If you negotiate with us,” again, it’s got to be a negotiation with Republicans to ultimately come to an agreement, which is how it’s always been. When we’ve had bipartisan agreements in the past, bipartisan means you work with people on both sides, not just in one chamber, but both in the House and in the Senate, they’ve yet to do that.
Speaker 5: (17:41)
We’ve encouraged them to do it. Kate Granger and her team are ready to go. But it’s time for Speaker Pelosi, and frankly, for President Biden to fulfill their promise of working with everybody and actually do it, which they’ve yet to.
Speaker 7: (17:53)
Liberal Democrats clearly fear that if the infrastructure bill passes moderates will peel away from the reconciliation bill, why don’t you see the same thing, the same dynamic? Why don’t you see the best way to kill a reconciliation bill is to give moderate Democrats a win on the infrastructure bill?
Speaker 5: (18:16)
Well, first of all, we tried to work with Democrats on an infrastructure bill. And again, Sam Graves laid out the foundation for $450 million infrastructure bill, which was roads, bridges, ports, waterways, broadband, things that everybody would consider infrastructure, and the Democrats didn’t want to even enter into that negotiation, that, by the way, would have been the largest infrastructure bill in the history of the country, because they wanted to just have a multi-trillion dollar bill, a bill that was over a trillion dollars for some reason, that’s what they were fixated on.
Speaker 5: (18:44)
And so that started this process that initially some senators, both Republican and Democrat, had thought they had an agreement with President Biden, and within an hour Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer went and demanded that President Biden link the two bills, infrastructure with taxes and spending. And from that moment on, you can see statement after statement from prominent Democrats saying that the bills are linked together. And so once they linked them together and changed the dynamic, then it shut Republicans out of the process over here.
Speaker 5: (19:14)
And so whether or not their members, and it’s really a fight between socialists and liberals over there, there are no moderates left, and you can look at the voting records, none of them are voting like moderates. They’re either voting like liberals or socialists. And there is a fight amongst the two, but at the same time, show me a time when the liberals stood up to Nancy Pelosi.
Speaker 5: (19:35)
There have been many deadlines were Speaker Pelosi said, “You’re going to get a vote on infrastructure by itself,” and she blew by the deadline. Last night she promised again that there would be a vote on infrastructure, and she blew by the deadline. So every time that they thought they had a win and an agreement to separate the two, Speaker Pelosi linked them right back again. And that’s where we are.
Speaker 8: (19:56)
So given the very narrow majority the Democrats have, and that progressive are still a little bit weird about this infrastructure vote that’s coming on [crosstalk 00:20:05]-
Speaker 5: (20:05)
A lot of people should be weird about that, it’s a very dangerous bill for America.
Speaker 8: (20:09)
How confident are you that every single member in your conference is going to be voting against the infrastructure bill coming up? I’m talking about every single one?
Speaker 5: (20:19)
Well, obviously you’ve seen some of our colleagues in the press saying that they support that bill. We whipped against it, among many reasons because they’ve, Speaker Pelosi and President Biden, have put them together as a package, meaning both the tax and spend 4.3 trillion, and the 1.2 infrastructure as a $5.5 trillion package.
Speaker 5: (20:40)
And so we’ve whipped against it and we’re working to keep that number as low as we possibly can. But again, you’ve read some of our colleagues in the press saying they’re for it, you’ve read a number of Democrats saying they’re against it; all this is going to come to a head maybe this week. But for all we know, Speaker Pelosi might drag this on and on because every time that there’s been a deadline, they failed to meet it.
Speaker 9: (21:00)
Congressman what do you make up talk that Democrats may bring a clean debt ceiling measure to the floor as early as today? And if they do it, what outcome would you expect?
Speaker 5: (21:11)
Well, I spoke to the majority leader last week during our colloquy about this, and it seems like it’s going to play out in the Senate right now because the bill that was sent over from the House includes the debt ceiling.
Speaker 5: (21:24)
It’s very clear the Senate is not going to take up and pass that bill, they’re going to have to do something different. But I think right now it’s in the hands of the Senate to determine how they can get to an agreement. Reconciliation is one of the things that’s been discussed on the debt ceiling side, but ultimately they sure haven’t included us in those conversations. So I couldn’t tell you where they’re going to go with it.
Speaker 9: (21:43)
So you’re not expecting to see it in the House, a clean debt ceiling bill?
Speaker 5: (21:48)
It’s in the Senate right now and they haven’t tried to engage us in a negotiation on it. They’ve just asked us to vote for their spending. And by the way, their debt ceiling increase that they brought forward was not to pay for things that we all agreed on last year, that was already paid for in bipartisan negotiations. What they’re asking for is a blank check between now and the end of December of next year. That was the vote that was taken.
Speaker 5: (22:11)
So imagine all those Democrats who voted to extend the debt ceiling for things that they don’t even know they will ultimately vote for through December of next year, when they’ve already spent trillions of dollars, and they anticipate spending five-and-a-half trillion in this massive build up and destroy American jobs.
Speaker 9: (22:26)
Would it be a bigger challenge to muster a unified opposition against the clean debt ceiling? Or do you think that-
Speaker 5: (22:34)
Well you saw a unanimous vote against the debt ceiling last week when it came up attached to the CR after they jettison Israel’s Iron Dome defense funding, and we’ll let the budget ranking member [crosstalk 00:22:46] address that too.
Jason Smith: (22:46)
I’d like to address this. Since we’re talking about the debt ceiling, when we got noticed at 8:23 on Thursday evening of a hearing, I sent a letter with it to the chairman of the budget committee on Friday, asking that he revise the hearing notice to include revision of fiscal year ’22 budget to include the debt ceiling.
Jason Smith: (23:06)
Mitch McConnell has said clearly just last week how the Democrats can raise the debt limit by themselves and how he will allow it to happen. Secretary Yellen came out today that the debt limit expires on October 18th, the Democrats had the opportunity on Saturday to start the process that Mitch McConnell laid out that said that he would allow to it go forward, and they refused to do it.
Jason Smith: (23:32)
At the start of the budget hearing on Saturday, I made a motion. I made a motion to postpone the hearing until Monday so that we could revise it and start the process that Mitch McConnell suggested. They failed to do it, it’s in their hands. They control the House, they control the White House, they control the Senate, and they have the process and the tools at hand to raise the debt limit by themselves, and they’re refusing to do it.
Speaker 10: (23:59)
Speaker 5: (23:59)
And think about this, they haven’t even gotten a Congressional Budget Office score for all of this massive tax and spending that they plan to bring to the floor possibly this week. We’ve asked for a CBO score, they’ve acknowledged they don’t have one and they might not even bring it to the floor with a score.
Speaker 5: (24:14)
So nobody knows what the cost of this is. We know it’s in the massive trillions, and the number only keeps going up. That’s the biggest concern, is every time you get a revised estimate because it’s not even official, the estimates keep going up by the trillions of dollars.
Speaker 5: (24:29)
People are looking at this thinking, “This is insanity,” because it is, and it’s driving inflation, and they want to drive inflation through the roof. We’ll do one more, yes?
Speaker 10: (24:36)
Speaker 11: (24:37)
Do you know how many of your members are planning to vote for the infrastructure bill?
Speaker 5: (24:40)
Yes I do.
Speaker 11: (24:40)
Can you share that number with us?
Speaker 12: (24:41)
Do you have a number?
Speaker 5: (24:42)
No. We’ll continue to have conversations with those members. And I think you all know the rules of a whip operation. We talk to our members, we respect that confidentiality, and we’re continuing to have those conversations.
Speaker 5: (24:54)
But in the meantime, I would invite all of you to come tomorrow night to Washington National Ballpark, where the Republicans will play the Democrats in a very spirited, friendly competition. Over 26,000 tickets have already been sold. So I’m not sure how many the Nationals pull in, but we’re going to be pulling in a large number. And we’re going to raise about $2 million for local charities as we work to beat the Democrats on the baseball field tomorrow night in the middle of all of these other big contentious issues.
Speaker 5: (25:19)
So with that, thank y’all and see you on the ball field.
Speaker 11: (25:21)
What position will Marjorie Taylor Greene play?