Sep 29, 2021
Senate GOP Press Conference Transcript September 29: Debt Ceiling
Senate GOP leaders held a press conference on September 29, 2021. They criticized the Biden administration and addressed raising the debt limit. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Senator John Cornyn: (00:10)
Good afternoon, everybody. Bipartisanship is actually a choice. So is partisan governing, or at least an attempt to govern purely on a partisan basis, which is how the Biden administration and the majority leaders, Schumer and Speaker Pelosi have chosen to govern.
Senator John Cornyn: (00:34)
What are the results? What have they been able to produce as a result of their partisan approach to legislating? Well, it’s one failure after another and one disaster after another. They currently are scrambling to try to figure out how are they going to lift the debt ceiling, something that leader McConnell told them they would have to do if they’re determined to spend at least three and a half trillion dollars more in borrowed money that they were going to have to lift the debt ceiling to accommodate that debt by themselves. But right now they’re scrambling to figure out how to do something they should have known about last July.
Senator John Cornyn: (01:14)
The border, where I live, is an absolute unmitigated disaster. In the middle of a pandemic, you’re seeing tens of thousands of people ushered into the United States, many of whom have not been tested or vaccinated for COVID-19 in spite of the fact that there is a public health law, Title 42, that limits people’s ability to cross borders during a pandemic. And then we heard yesterday that President Biden doesn’t even listen to his military leadership when it comes to the way that he exited, in a disastrous fashion, Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of 13 American lives and even now there are Americans who still haven’t been able to get out. So as you can see from the charts behind us, you’ll be able to see there is one failure after another. And here we are roughly one day before the government funding runs out and they still haven’t come up with a way to pass a continuing resolution. Hopefully they’ll figure that out with our help here very shortly. But all that our democratic colleagues have to show as a result of their partisan choice is a parade of failures for the American people. We need to do better and we can do better. Senator Thune.
Senator John Thune: (02:37)
Thanks, John. Well, I think the American people have had an opportunity now to evaluate the results, if you will, or lack of results, from unified Democrat control of the government. They have the House, the Senate and the White House, which should enable them to do virtually about anything that they want. And I think what you’re seeing as a result of that unified control of the government by the Democrats is a crisis incompetence. As Senator Cornyn pointed out, whether it’s the border, whether it’s the incredibly messy, messy exit from Afghanistan, which was a debacle by any definition, or whether it’s what’s happening on the floor right now, it’s just constant sort of crisis. And I think the American people’s evaluation is coming in as you look at how the president’s numbers are slipping, particularly among independent voters.
Senator John Thune: (03:36)
They want blame others. They want to blame the rules of the Senate. “It’s the filibusters fault.” Or they want to blame the parliamentarian. They’re going after the parliamentarian. Or frankly, they’re going after their own members right now. But this was entirely of their own making. They have known for some time that when they got power in the government, that if they were going to run it with an iron fist and try and run rough shot and steamroll the minority and steamroll even their own members and do everything at 51 votes, that this is what they were going to end up with.
Senator John Thune: (04:07)
They’ve known since July on the debt limit that Republicans were not going to deliver votes for that. There isn’t a single Republican who wants to contribute to the biggest expansion of government, the biggest growth of government, literally since the new deal. Paid for by with the biggest tax increase literally in decades. So we are where we are because the Democrats, and the House, and the Senate, the leadership and the White House don’t have a plan in place. And they knew full well, going back to July, we telegraphed it very early on that if you want to increase spending by $5 trillion, if you want to raise taxes by trillions and trillions of dollars, then you’re going to have to adjust the borrowing limit to accommodate all that new spending. Republicans are not going to contribute to the biggest buildup and run-up of government that we’ve seen certainly in our lifetimes. So I think as we try to figure out how to come up with a path forward, it’s really going to be in the hands of the Democrats to use the process, the very process, the partisan process that they decided to use to do their partisan taxing and their partisan spending to do the debt limit in the same partisan way. It’s all available to them. There is a procedure in place that enables them to do that and we fully expect that they’ll move to that hopefully here soon. But it is not going to in any way, I think, get the American people on board with their agenda, which like I said, is a huge growth in government moving us more and more on a road down toward a socialist European type economy, and that’s not what the American people want to see.
Senator John Cornyn: (05:52)
Senator Scott: (05:54)
Well, what do the American people want to see? They want to be safe in their communities. They want secure borders. They want higher wages and lower costs. And with this administration, it’s been just the opposite. There are two signs up here that say Dems in Disarray, and while the title is the same, there’s actually six things on that side and six other things on that side. So we’re talking about 12 different areas where the Democrats are disarray. It’s been crisis after crisis after crisis.
Senator Scott: (06:23)
Many people really started to focus and pay attention to this after Afghanistan. President paid all attention to the calendar on the wall, not the conditions on the ground, left Americans behind, left our friends who had helped us over the last 20 years behind, and his actions resulted in the death of 13 brave American soldiers, including one of those Marines Riley McCollum from Wyoming. That’s what the American people are seeing. That’s what they’re seeing with this administration.
Senator Scott: (06:53)
Beyond that, in terms of the border, people want secure borders. What did President Biden do? He reversed policies that worked and that the board border agency said worked, and [inaudible 00:07:05] we’ve had over a million illegal immigrants come to this country in just the last nine months.
Senator Scott: (07:09)
People want to be safe in their communities. They’re not. Pat Toomey is here from Pennsylvania. He and I were talking yesterday that homicide numbers in Philadelphia, 400 already this year. People are seeing that in cities, all across the country. People want to feel that they actually get value for the money they spend, but they’re feeling the pain every day when they go to the grocery store or go to the gas station, the bite taken out of their paycheck because of the inflation brought on by the reckless spending of this administration. So in item after item, after item, we’ve seen incompetence, if not dangerous behavior by this administration.
Senator Scott: (07:47)
People do not want what they’re getting from this administration, as I started. They want to be safe in their communities. They want secure borders. They want higher incomes, lower costs. And on all of those things, they’re-
Senator Scott: (08:03)
… lower costs. And on all of those things, they’re getting the exact opposite from the Biden administration.
Rick Scott: (08:13)
So since January 20th, the Democrats have controlled the House, the White House and the Senate. So they have unified government. What are we seeing? We’ve seen two things. We’ve seen our country moves. They’ve tried to move our country towards socialism. They’re bankrupting the country. And Joe Biden takes up, takes credit for nothing and only tries to blame everybody else for all the bad things happening. So let’s just go through.
Rick Scott: (08:36)
The border crisis. Completely self-inflicted. It wasn’t happening last year, it happened this year. It happened under Joe Biden’s watch and he’s blamed everybody else. He’s blamed border patrol agents. He’s blamed the Trump administration. He’s never responsible for that. Look at inflation. Gas prices are up. Food prices are up. Car prices are up. Home prices are up. Joe Biden has done nothing, but he’s blamed everybody else. He’s taken no responsibility. He’s done nothing to reduce inflation in this country.
Rick Scott: (09:06)
Matter of fact, his reckless spending is causing the significant inflation and he wants to do more. We had hearing yesterday in armed services on Afghanistan. Joe Biden wants to take no responsibility. He’s blamed everybody else. He’s blamed our military, but our military told him that he shouldn’t do be doing what he’s doing. He left American citizens behind. Here’s a president that decided he had a plan to withdraw the military without withdrawing Americans. That was part of what he did, but he blamed everybody else. Our military, the Afghan civilians, the Afghan military, our allies. He blames everybody else. He takes no responsibility. He does not actually believe the buck stops with him.
Rick Scott: (09:49)
So a unified Democrat government is a government, you’re going to see high prices. You’re going to see a border crisis. We’re not going to be self-sufficient for our energy. You’ve you’ve seen crime go way up. So we have got to figure out how to move this country in the right direction, and it’s not the way the Democrats are heading.
Speaker 1: (10:12)
Senator Toomey: (10:16)
So I think probably several times a day, we hear from Senator Schumer and other senior Democrats about what an unmitigated catastrophe it would be if the debt ceiling is not raised on time. We all know that Senator Schumer and the Democrats could have raised the debt ceiling by themselves months ago or weeks ago or last week or this week, if they had pursued the procedures available to them. There’s not a thing Republicans could have done to stop it. They can do it with a simple majority, but we know this. Everybody knows this. And yet, and yet, despite all their clamoring about what a catastrophe awaits, they choose not to avert the catastrophe that they have the power to avert. You have to ask yourself, why would they embarrass themselves with this contradiction? Why would they embarrass themselves by continuing to stress this message of calamity when everybody knows that they themselves can easily avoid it? It’s pretty embarrassing to try to sustain that argument.
Senator Toomey: (11:26)
But there’s a reason. The reason is they know that the American people understand that this wild, reckless spending binge that they’re on drives the need for ever more debt. There’s a relationship. The more you spend, the more you will have to borrow to finance that spending. And they’re in the midst of an all-time record blow out spending spree like most of us have never even imagined much less seen. They don’t want the American people to see that connection made clear by the unilateral Democrat increase in the debt ceiling. But it’s the Democrats that want to transform America into some kind of quasi socialist country. It’s the Democrats that want to take on all this debt to pay for all of this massive spending. And it’s the Democrats that are going to have to raise the debt ceiling.
Speaker 1: (12:24)
Senator Hyde-Smith: (12:26)
Thank you for being here today. What we are truly seeing is Democrats in disarray from the White House to the halls of Congress, it is affecting people in my state and every state in this country. There are more than tens of thousands of illegal people coming across the border. The opioids and fentanyl is soaring in record numbers, that’s compounding the problems we already had. It’s putting stress on law enforcement. It’s putting stress on our hospital systems. The people of this country deserve more than that. I have employers calling saying, “We can’t find workers.” One of the problems obviously is COVID the other is they can’t pass a drug test because we’re allowing it to come across that border as much as they want to bring. The American people deserve more than this. They deserve a secure border. They deserve us doing our jobs and making this country the best that it can be. And that is not happening right now. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (13:32)
Senator Daines: (13:36)
The American people want to see law and order. They don’t want to see lawlessness and disarray and disorder. On the chart to my right, the border crisis is listed as one of the examples of the Dems in disarray. Let me be clear. President Biden is not just failing on the Southern border. That evidence is overwhelming and very, very clear. We are seeing an out of control Southern border, the illegal immigration that’s occurring, and Senator Hyde-Smith just talked about the flood of Mexican cartel, fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamines that are not just coming across that Southern border into Texas. They’re also making the way to places like Montana.
Senator Daines: (14:21)
But what’s not being talked about a whole lot is what’s going on on the other border, the Northern border. President Biden is failing at both borders, not just the Southern border because of the self-inflicted disarray that he has placed upon this country with his change in policies and president Trump, but on the Northern border. Canadians can’t come into the United States. Now, Trudeau lifted the ban on Americans going to Canada on August 9th but present Biden has said that Canadians who want to come into our Northern border states and into our country can’t. In fact in communities like Great Falls Montana, they’ve seen a 20 to 25% decrease in business because it’s part of Northern Montana, because our Canadian friends aren’t coming into our state.
Senator Daines: (15:14)
Now what adds insult to injury here, you might hear the Biden Administration say it’s COVID related. But here are the facts that just came out this morning. Canadians vaccination rate for COVID is now over 80%. Do you know what the vaccination rate is for Haitians? Less than 0.5%. And Montanans are asking what in the world’s going on. They hypocrisy. You can’t explain. Why would the president keep the Northern border shut down and the Southern border wide open to illegal immigrants and illegal drugs. I’m working with Congresswoman Stefanik in the House. Of course, Chuck Schumer probably doesn’t worry about the –
Senator Daines: (16:03)
Of course, Chuck Schumer probably doesn’t worry about the impact Canadians might have on the New York economy there in a place like New York City, but you talk with Congresswoman Stefanik and she’ll tell you the folks up north, they need those Canadians coming in and helping spurring their economies.
Senator Scott: (16:18)
Thank you. Thank you all for being here and one must ask themselves, crisis after crisis after crisis, the Democrats are in disarray without any question, how does that all translate to the average person living in this country? We’ve heard about the border crisis north and south, Afghanistan, taxing and spending crisis. All of that lands on the shoulders of everyday Americans, everyday Americans in South Carolina, 25,000 farmers asking themselves, how do they transfer their assets and their resources? They’re land rich and money poor. This taxing plan, it devastates farmers throughout our nation.
Senator Scott: (16:59)
You think about the kids living in single-parent households in North Charleston, where I grew up and you think about is the American dream because of the Biden administration’s policies, becoming more elusive to kids who looked for leadership, who looked for hope? And it’s obvious to me that for too many kids and too many places because of the Biden administration’s policies and spending, we’re literally making the American dream further and further out of reach for kids who are looking for hope.
Senator Scott: (17:35)
I think about the content. We spent a lot of time thinking about the crisis that we’re seeing around this nation. And I think about the three and a half trillion dollar reconciliation vehicle, the price is astounding. It is hard to digest three and a half trillion dollars after a $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan and a $1.9 trillion COVID plan with less than 10% going to COVID health or COVID vaccines. That spending is just enormous. But you think about what all that spending does to the average person in our country, the single mom, or the senior on Social Security, on a fixed income.
Senator Scott: (18:15)
When you drive up to the pump and your gas prices are up 40 plus percent, and you’re on a fixed income, you’re starting to think about rationing your food, your energy, or your gas. When your electric bill is up 20% on that same fixed income, the impact is devastating. When we’re talking about giving the IRS permission to spy on accounts for every transaction at $600 or more, you’re de-stabilizing one of the greatest systems of commerce in the world. Adding $ 80 billion to double the number of IRS agents to take a look into family businesses, family systems. The amount of devastation being done by the programs and the policies, in addition to the price, makes this spending crisis an incredible threat to the American dream. The accelerator to socialism can be seen by the policy designs in this reconciliation vehicle. And that crisis will actually create more crisis down the road.
Senator John Cornyn: (19:43)
When Senator Scott was talking about the surveillance that the IRS is going to be doing on $600 and up transactions, it was chilling because it reminds me of what the communist party in China is doing to its own people. They’ve imposed ubiquitous technical surveillance with cameras and all sorts of ways to keep track of people because they’re essentially a police state. So not only are our democratic colleagues pushing us into socialism, they’re also embracing some of the very tools that police states like China are employing to surveil our own people. Any questions? Yes, ma’am.
Speaker 2: (20:28)
By not supporting an increase or suspension in the debt limit and filibustering it too, are you good abdicating your responsibility to govern?
Senator John Cornyn: (20:37)
Absolutely not. As you’ve heard, they’d made a conscious decision to spend three and a half trillion dollars and more by themselves without any kind of bipartisan consultation or attempt to consensus. So I think it’s only appropriate that they be the ones to be held politically accountable because when they pass that reconciliation bill they’ll have to state a dollar figure and the American people can see how reckless they were in continuing to spend and then raise taxes. So they have the votes to do it. Senator McConnell told them in July that they would have to do it alone. But the only reason they’re scrambling now is because they simply delayed what they knew would be the inevitable result.
Speaker 2: (21:19)
The Republicans passed the tax cuts in 2017 with no Democratic support, not getting their input. And Democrats helped to raise the debt limit after that.
Senator John Cornyn: (21:31)
Your point is what?
Speaker 2: (21:32)
So they helped to pay for the debt that the tax cuts created and you guys are not going to help pay for the debt that the Democratic agenda is going to pay.
Senator Toomey: (21:43)
So there is a history with divided government that sometimes there is bipartisan votes to raise the debt ceiling. But what the Democrats usually do is they demand that there still be more spending as the price to get their vote, to raise the debt ceiling. And I would remind everyone, the driver of the excess of debt is excessive spending. The price they insist on is always ever more spending. They’re the ones driving this problem right now. They’ve got the ability to raise the debt ceiling. They should do it.
Speaker 2: (22:15)
But don’t elections matter?
Senator Toomey: (22:17)
Yeah. And when the American people elect the president by 44,000 votes, have a completely evenly divided Senate, have a Democratic margin of that is the narrowest in what 5, 6, 7 decades may be more. That’s probably not a mandate to transform America into a socialist country, but yet that is what they’re trying to do. Wildly out of proportion with the election results.
Senator John Cornyn: (22:42)
Speaker 3: (22:42)
Yeah. Just a quick follow on what she’s saying. Can you help me understand? Because I think people in America may wonder this too. What is the difference between letting Democrats pass something with 50 or 51 votes in the Senate verse the reconciliation plan, other than a continued uncertainty in the stock market? The S and P is off three and a half percent for the month. If we think back to 2010, it was an 18% correction in the stock market over four months. At the end of the day, if everybody agrees the debt ceiling has to be raised, aren’t you just taking a pound of flesh here with the reconciliation?
Senator John Cornyn: (23:21)
Absolutely not. They knew that this was going to be necessary last July, and they simply have waited and dragged their heels and been in denial. And really what this is, is about future spending. In other words, they want to raise the debt limit in order to facilitate the spending of this three and a half trillion dollars plus in the reckless tax and spending bill. So this is one of the tools available to us. We believe that they’re making bad policy, bad choices for the country and we don’t intend to help them.
Speaker 3: (23:53)
You don’t worry that when… You don’t worry about if there’s a default, if we hit the debt ceiling, that when Texans call your office or Pennsylvanians or Floridians call
Speaker 4: (24:03)
…That when Texans call your office, or Pennsylvanians, or Floridians call your office because their portfolios have plummeted with the stock market, that they’re not going to hold you somewhat responsible?
Senator John Cornyn: (24:12)
There will not be a default. Yes. Ma’am, in the back.
Speaker 5: (24:18)
Senator, you said earlier in this press conference that you hoped that Democrats would figure out a solution on the government shutdown issue that’s coming up on Thursday, you said with your help. Can you talk us through a little bit about what that plan might look at and can you assure us that the government will not shut down on Thursday?
Senator John Cornyn: (24:38)
Democrats don’t want to shutdown the government. Republicans don’t want to shut down the government. That will supply the result that we all expect, which is to keep the lights on. The only question is how long the continuing resolution will be for, and whether it will include things like funding for Iron Dome that allowed our friends in allies in Israel to save many, many lives, that the House has taken out of the CR. So they know how to do this. They’ve done it hundreds of times and they simply need to do it and quit whining about it.
Speaker 4: (25:15)
Do you think we see something on that today?
Senator John Cornyn: (25:18)
I don’t know. I assume so. Yes, sir.
Speaker 6: (25:22)
On the debt limit, it’s all very well to say Democrats should have done it months ago and you may be right. But Democrats now say there isn’t enough time to deal with the debt limit and the reconciliation bill, reopen the budget resolution before October 18. Surely Republicans don’t want to see the U.S. default as well. So what is the end game here?
Rick Scott: (25:43)
I don’t think that’s true. They have the time to get it done.
Senator John Cornyn: (25:47)
Come to the microphone.
Rick Scott: (25:48)
I mean, they have time to get done before the 18th. That’s not true. That’s not true at all.
Speaker 6: (25:52)
They’ve said repeatedly in the House-
Rick Scott: (25:53)
That’s not true though.
Speaker 6: (25:54)
So you’re just saying they’re lying.
Rick Scott: (25:55)
Absolutely. That’s not true.
Senator John Cornyn: (25:59)
Speaker 7: (26:00)
Two questions. One quickly. When you said that there was question about how long the CR would last, do you guys want a date that’s not December 3rd? And if so, what is it? And then my broad question is beyond the current debt limit deadline, is there any appetite to look at the debt limit overall and whether it’s even necessary or move the responsibility for the debt limit to the administration? Is there any appetite [crosstalk 00:26:24]?
Rick Scott: (26:24)
I believe we should have to vote raising the debt. I believe we have to get structural reform. I was governor of Florida. I walked in with a budget deficit. The state had increased its debt every year for 20 years by over a billion dollars. We balanced the budget every year, we cut a third of the debt. We have to start figuring out how to do that up here. We can’t just keep spending money like this. If you look at right now, our interest expense is over $300 billion a year. That’s with really low interest rates. If we go back to normalized interest rates, it’s going to be very difficult to pay the interest and also fund all the programs we want to fund Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the military. We have got to to now say, we got to make structural change.
Rick Scott: (27:02)
We have to change what we’re doing. We can’t keep doing the exact same thing and think we’re going to get different results. If you look at their plan, their plan to take us to $45 trillion of debt. Let’s say we go to 5% interest. How in God’s green earth are we ever going to pay the interest? And what are you going to cut? So live within our means. You have to live within your means, every family does, every business does. And if you don’t, something happens to you. We have got figure this out. There’s a lot of proposals. Pat Toomey has had a Full Faith and Credit Bill. I’ve got a bill that require when you go have deficit… Bill has deficit spending it takes two-thirds vote. We’ve got to come up with some way to stop this wasteful spending.
Senator Toomey: (27:44)
I just want to add something, I completely agree with Senator Scott, and let’s be honest, spending other people’s money is fun and easy around here. The debt ceiling is the accountability part because that’s what goes with it. And it happens that it is during disputes over the debt ceiling, and the resolution of those disputes, have historically been the mechanism that has gotten us budget deals. It’s been the moment when Congress will finally focus, at least momentarily, on this problem. And this has been a pattern in history.
Senator Toomey: (28:17)
The Reagan/O’Neil deal on Social Security was consummated around a debt ceiling issue. George H.W. Bush confronted budget challenges over the debt ceiling. The Clinton/ Gingrich budget deal, that was done at a moment when the debt ceiling needed to be raised. Even Barack Obama in 2011, it was over the debt ceiling that he came to the table with Republicans and we worked out a serious effort to get the entitlement programs under control. And we had a fallback, if that didn’t work, we were going to cap discretionary spending. My point is, the fact that Congress has to actually affirmatively raise that debt ceiling has been the mechanism that has precipitated at least some small modicum of attempt to deal with the [inaudible 00:29:03].
Speaker 8: (29:02)
So, Senator, you’re saying you are willing to negotiate?
Senator Toomey: (29:03)
So for instance, yeah, if the Democrats would take this terrible $5 trillion bill off the table, and they would work with me on a plan to slow the rate of growth of the entitlement programs that are driving this, then I would be happy to work with them.
Speaker 8: (29:15)
So if the Democrats cancel their agenda you would be willing to [crosstalk 00:29:18].
Senator Toomey: (29:18)
If the Democrats get rid of the program to socialize America and spend massive amounts of money that the American people don’t want then absolutely.
Speaker 7: (29:28)
Senator John Cornyn: (29:28)
Thank you, everybody.
Senator Toomey: (29:28)