A plan proposed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and cut spending by roughly 14% received the backing of all three Republicans in the New Jersey congressional delegation, including freshman Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), but Democrats slammed the plan as a dangerous stint.
“I don’t think half the Republicans even know what’s in it,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair). “They just passed this piece of legislation that most of them are probably praying it doesn’t pass. They’re thinking, ‘Thank God the Democrats will probably save us again and not let this pass because this is a really bad piece of legislation’. I really don’t believe if they thought this was going to pass the Senate, I don’t think many of them would have voted for it.”
The Annapolis graduate and former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot was especially angered by cuts to veterans’ services, including an estimated 219,000 fewer outpatients in New Jersey.
“Their plan is to fund the debt until March of 2024. That’s a political trick if I ever heard on — to do it right as we get into the presidential campaign cycle,” Sherrill said. That is a recipe for chaos and disaster for our economy.”
Sherrill also estimated that 3,900 New Jersey children would lose access to the Head Start program and impact job creation by reducing research and development funding at New Jersey universities.
“What is so frustrating to me is there’s no vision of how we move this country forward. I am happy to have a discussion about how we lower the debt, but I want to have a real discussion,” she said. “I want to talk about real things and how we continue to really invest in the things that matter, like research and development, and honestly, they want to cut funding.
McCarthy’s proposal passed 217 to 215, with four Republicans voting yes. New Jersey’s eight Democrats voted against the bill, while Kean and Reps. Christopher Smith (R-Manchester) and Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis) voted in support. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing), who opposed the bill, did not vote.
“I’ve never seen 217 people work so hard around the clock to screw over veterans, people struggling with hunger, and people just trying to live with dignity and decency,” said Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown).
Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark) said the passage of the debt ceiling bill would increase air and water pollution, deny food assistance, and limit childcare for working parents.
“Speaker McCarthy has introduced a terrible plan to address the deficit, and I was proud to vote against it,” Payne said. “Once again, Republicans reveal their anti-American agenda with a budget plan that pads the pockets of their corporate and wealthy friends at the expense of the American taxpayer.”
U.S. Senator Bob Menendez said the bill “has no path forward in the Senate.”
“This plan would set our country back and is a non-starter,” stated Menendez. “Senate Democrats stand united in rejecting this bill, and it is my hope that sensible heads will prevail so we can prevent the first-ever debt default in our nation’s history that would be catastrophic for working families and our standing in the world.”
Today’s bill seeks to force President Joe Biden to negotiate spending cuts or risk debt default.
“Congress must pass an increase in the debt ceiling to avoid a catastrophic default that would destroy millions of jobs and wipe out trillions in families’ savings. Deficit reduction should be handled through the normal budget process,” said Sherrill. “Threatening the American economy shouldn’t be a political football to be thrown around. There are real-life consequences.”
On a press call early this evening, Sherrill had harsh words for McCarthy.
“I think it shows a leader who’s bereft of vision,” she stated.