Rep. Sewell Calls on Congress to Reject Republican Debt Ceiling Demands and Avoid Catastrophic Default
April 26, 2023
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) joined nearly 200 of her colleagues from across the House Democratic Caucus in a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy calling on Republicans to uphold their obligation to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by lifting the debt ceiling “without any extraneous policies attached.”
“It is a sad day when House Republicans shamefully hold our economy hostage and threaten to default on our debt unless Congress makes deep cuts to programs that Alabamians rely on,” said Rep. Sewell. “We in Congress should never play politics with the full faith and credit of the United States of America. Republicans must join us to raise the debt ceiling—just as they did three times under the previous administration—and avoid economic collapse.”
“I am a strong believer in balancing our budget,” continued Sewell. “Despite Republicans’ 2017 tax giveaway to the wealthy—which added $2 trillion to our deficit—I am proud of the historic deficit reduction that we have achieved under President Biden. If Republicans want to address our national debt, they should start by making the wealthy pay their fair share instead of targeting veteran benefits, food assistance, and other programs that hard working Alabama families rely on.”
If agreed to, Speaker McCarthy’s debt ceiling demands would have devastating consequences for Alabama families. According to a report by the House Budget Committee Minority, House Republicans' debt ceiling proposal would:
- Threaten access to food assistance for 17,000 people aged 50-55 in Alabama.
- Eliminate preschool and child care for at least 5,600 children in Alabama.
- Increase housing costs for at least 8,800 people in Alabama.
- Make college more expensive for at least 98,900 students in Alabama.
- Eliminate at least 3 air traffic control towers in Alabama.
- Cut at least 150 rail safety inspection days in Alabama.
- Repeal investments in cleaner, cheaper energy — threatening at least 1,280 clean energy and manufacturing jobs announced in Alabama since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
If Republicans do not get their way, and instead choose to cause an unprecedented credit default, they would unleash global economic catastrophe and put vital government services at risk. According to the report, a default would:
- Kill about 6,000 jobs in Alabama’s 7th District alone. Nationwide, a default could kill more than 7 million jobs.
- Jeopardize Social Security payments for 101,000 families in Alabama’s 7th District.
- Put health benefits at risk for 306,000 people in Alabama’s 7th District who rely on Medicare, Medicaid, or Veterans Affairs health coverage.
- Increase lifetime mortgage costs for the typical homeowner in Alabama by $43,000.
- Raise the costs of a new car loan for the typical American by $800.
- Threaten the retirement savings of 91,400 people near retirement in Alabama’s 7th District, eliminating $20,000 from the typical retirement portfolio.
Rep. Sewell and her Democratic colleagues made clear that while they welcome debate on spending and economic responsibility, negotiations over spending must be distinct from the threat of economic default, and any cuts to Social Security and Medicare are off the table.
The full text of the letter can be found here.