Clark, Mass. Reps., Call GOP as Debt Ceiling Negotiations Continue


“Lives and livelihoods are at stake because Republicans in MAGA have chosen to use them, to use the American people, as bargaining chips.”

Katherine Clark, United States House Democratic Whip, speaks during a Courage for America press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on May 23, 2023. Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP

Democratic Whip and Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark at a news conference Friday morning again called out Republicans for threatening to cut federal spending as debt ceiling negotiations ring midnight.

Democrats and Republicans are aiming to strike a deal by this weekend, and members of the Massachusetts delegation continued to attack the GOP’s plan to default on the country’s federal spending. Over weeks of negotiations, Clark spoke at length in the House, held press conferences and called on five Republican representatives to join the Democrats’ plan to raise the debt ceiling without spending cuts and “avoid catastrophe.”

At the Revere press conference, Clark explained how Republicans are holding several important federal programs hostage and creating a false choice, where both options — devastating cuts or a devastating default — could lead to economic turmoil.

“Lives and livelihoods are at stake because Republicans in MAGA have chosen to use them, to use the American people, as bargaining chips,” she said. “They openly admitted that they had held America hostage – not the White House, not Congress, not the Democrats – the American people.”

With either of those two choices, Clark said, Americans could face higher mortgage rates, drained retirement accounts and the loss of more than eight million jobs, benefits SNAP, Social Security payments, military paychecks and essential veteran services — all over Memorial Day weekend.

“It’s a tough weekend to be in the military, when you have friends who never came back, Gold Star families getting ready for the Memorial Day holiday, and you wonder if food will be on the table June 1 or so your paycheck will hit,” said Marc Silvestri, former member of the U.S. military and director of Revere’s Veterans Service Office.

Lawmakers continued to make progress on a spending deal, a notable improvement from stalled negotiations last week. But Massachusetts Democrats have expressed concern that a compromise could mean the loss of several critical programs. Some lawmakers have called on President Joe Biden to use the 14th Amendment to bypass Congress and raise the cap himself — Clark told the press conference the move would be risky but “should remain a tool.”

Biden and his cabinet have signaled they will not use the 14th Amendment in place of a deal.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, who signed a letter along with several other progressives in favor of the possible use of the 14th Amendment — chided Republicans in the House on Thursday, calling GOP lawmakers “no idea.”

“Republicans continue to rule in a helpless, callous, and with great contempt, and I would say ungodly way, because faith without works is dead,” she said.

Worcester Democrat Jim McGovern worked hard to make sure SNAP benefits got through the negotiations, even approaching a trustee at an engagement party to discuss the negotiations.

All Massachusetts representatives in Congress have agreed to raise the cap. However, negotiations are ongoing as Republicans and Democrats scramble to hammer out a deal that cuts spending enough to please the GOP and maintains enough spending to fund programs backed primarily by Democrats.


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