© 2024 Connecticut Public

FCC Public Inspection Files:
WPKT · WRLI-FM · WEDW-FM · Public Files Contact
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

CT Dem says a federal debt deal that could prevent a disastrous default is a 'ransom list'

Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) speaks during a hearing on April 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Al Drago-Pool
Getty Images
Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) speaks during a hearing on April 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C.

President Joe Biden says he feels good about the debt ceiling and budget deal negotiated with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy as the White House and congressional leaders work to ensure its passage this week in time to lift the nation's borrowing limit and prevent a potentially disastrous U.S. default.

Not everyone is happy, including members of Connecticut's congressional delegation.

Signaling the tough days still ahead, McCarthy urged skeptical colleagues to "look at where the victories are.”

The Republican speaker said Tuesday he will be sitting down and talking with lawmakers as they return to Washington from the long Memorial Day weekend.

Speaking Tuesday on Connecticut Public'sWhere We Live, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., said he is not happy about the agreement, but said he will vote for it.

"Of course it doesn't contain Democratic priorities," Himes said. "Because what it is — it's a ransom list. It's a ransom list of things that the Republican majority in the House of Representatives wanted."

Himes said Republicans were telling the Democrats to do what they want, or else the GOP would blow up the economy by defaulting on the federal government's obligations to pay its debt. Some Republicans say the federal government needs to cut spending immediately.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told MSNBC Sunday he believes Biden kept the "most reckless things that Republicans were asking for out of this agreement."

“[F]rom what I can see, Republicans didn't get any of the big things they were asking for," Murphy said. "They didn't get massive, long-term cuts to programs for the poor or the middle class. They didn't get the repeal of the President's signature renewable energy bill. They didn't get big new requirements that push people out of the Medicaid program."

A key test was coming late Tuesday when the House Rules Committee was to consider the package and vote on sending it to the full House for a vote expected Wednesday.

Quick approval by both the House and Senate would ensure government checks will continue to go out to Social Security recipients, veterans and others. The agreement includes expanded work requirements for some food aid recipients but not as stringent as many Republicans wanted.

A number of hard right conservatives are criticizing the deal as falling short of the deep spending cuts they wanted, while liberals decry policy changes such as new work requirements for older Americans in the food aid program.

Biden spent part of the Memorial Day holiday working the phones, calling lawmakers in both parties.

"I feel very good about it," Biden told reporters Monday. “I’ve spoken to a number of the members,” he said, among them Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a past partner in big bipartisan deals who largely has been sitting this one out.

Learn more
Listen toHimes discuss the debt ceiling and other topics on Where We Live.

Connecticut Public Radio's Anya Grondalski, Catherine Shen, Matt Dwyer, Patrick Skahill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Stand up for civility

This news story is funded in large part by Connecticut Public’s Members — listeners, viewers, and readers like you who value fact-based journalism and trustworthy information.

We hope their support inspires you to donate so that we can continue telling stories that inform, educate, and inspire you and your neighbors. As a community-supported public media service, Connecticut Public has relied on donor support for more than 50 years.

Your donation today will allow us to continue this work on your behalf. Give today at any amount and join the 50,000 members who are building a better—and more civil—Connecticut to live, work, and play.