Congressional Republicans plan to introduce resolutions on Tuesday to declare the nation’s debt – which topped $22 trillion earlier this month – a security threat ahead of this week’s debt-ceiling deadline.
“We introduced this resolution because the United States is racing towards a fiscal cliff,” Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., who is sponsoring the legislation, said. “Congress is taking few measures to solve this problem, and it is beyond time for our colleagues in both chambers to become serious about balancing the nation’s budget and recognize this issue as a threat to our national security.”
A similar resolution was introduced last year on the House side, but this time sponsors were able to get some support from Senate colleagues. Biggs has been working with Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga. -- a vocal advocate for addressing the debt who even has a debt clock in his office -- on a similar resolution in the upper chamber.
“The single greatest threat to our national security is our national debt, and it’s time Washington comes to grips with that reality,” Perdue told Fox News. “This month, our national debt topped $22 trillion. This news should have sounded alarms throughout Washington, but bureaucrats and career politicians didn’t even blink an eye.”
The House resolution aims to not only recognize the debt as a national security crisis, but also restore so-called “regular order” to the appropriations process and address the “fiscal crisis,” according to text of the bill provided to Fox News. The bill has 37 original co-sponsors, and Perdue is still looking for co-sponsors in the Senate.
The measure comes as the debt-ceiling deadline looms in Washington once again, though this time the March 1 deadline isn’t sounding alarm bells. The Treasury Department is expected to use available cash on hand to fund the government through the summer, allowing lawmakers to avoid the debt fight this time around, according to analysis from the Bipartisan Policy Center.
“Congress has bought itself quite a bit of breathing room with this most recent suspension,” Shai Akabas, BPC’s director of economic policy, said in a statement earlier this month. “But that doesn’t mean lawmakers should ignore the debt limit until the next critical deadline.”
Republicans, many of whom were elected on fiscal issues and a commitment to addressing the national debt, have been accused of hypocrisy now that a member of their own party is in the White House. Even in their own ranks, members have accused party leadership of abandoning fiscal principles.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., admonished his fellow members last year over the budget and spending increases. His opposition actually led to a short government shutdown.
“If you were against President Obama’s deficits and now you’re for the Republican deficits isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?” Paul said on the Senate floor last year. “Don’t you remember when Republicans howled to high heaven that President Obama was spending us into the gutter, spending us into oblivion?”
Leaders in the national security community have also made their concerns known about the massive debt. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats listed the debt as a national security concern last year in a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“This situation is unsustainable as I think we all know and represents a dire threat to our economic and national security,” Coats said.
Whether the new resolutions will bring the debt issue to the political forefront again remains unclear, but sponsors of the resolutions say it is one they remain committed to addressing.
“Ultimately, the debt impacts our ability to fund priorities, like providing our men and women in uniform with the resources they need to protect Americans,” Perdue said. “This debt crisis will only get worse, and if we don’t act now, our country will lose the ability to do the right thing.”