Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) called out Senate Republicans for blocking votes to raise the debt limit, which could threaten the entire U.S. economy and jeopardize benefits for Social Security recipients, veterans, and vulnerable Americans receiving health care through Medicaid.
At today’s Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Chairman of the Federal Reserve Jerome Powell, Cortez Masto focused her questioning on Republicans’ hypocrisy, noting that the debt limit has to be raised primarily due to spending they oversaw while in the majority.
Cortez Masto began the hearing by highlighting the significant investments Congress made through Appropriations and the CARES Act, as well as the American Rescue Plan, to address the COVID-19 pandemic. She then asked both Secretary Yellen and Chairman Powell, “How important were those investments to avoid a deep and painful recession?”
“Utterly essential,” replied Chairman Powell.
“I appreciate that, because at the end of the day, there was bipartisan work to address this pandemic and it was needed at the time,” Cortez Masto continued, noting, “the work we are doing to increase the debt limit has a lot to do with the debt that was incurred back then to address the pandemic, isn’t that right?”
“That’s true. Raising the debt limit allows us to pay bills that were incurred because of those acts and others in Congress,” said Secretary Yellen.
“So just so I can clarify, my colleagues who are refusing to come to the table to address [the debt limit], they’re getting the benefit of [those relief packages] in their states however, correct?” asked the senator.
Secretary Yellen affirmed this was true, and that states represented by Republican senators have received significant support because of the coronavirus relief packages those Senators now refuse to pay for.
Republican willingness to allow the U.S. to default on its obligations could have devastating consequences for Americans across the country. For decades, the debt limit has been raised in a bipartisan manner yet, now Republican refusal to work with Democrats to raise the debt limit could cause delays in seniors’ Social Security payments, paycheck freezes for military service members, and significant cuts to Medicaid and Medicare programs millions of Americans rely on.
Senator Cortez Masto also pressed both Secretary Yellen and Chairman Powell on what we can do to help restore the hospitality, travel, and tourism industries that fuel Nevada’s economy. While Nevada has seen a rise in leisure travel this year, business and international travel have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels, threatening Nevada’s economic recovery. Cortez Masto urged both Chairman Powell and Secretary Yellen to ensure the Federal Reserve and the Administration are working together and doing everything they can to help the hospitality industry recover. Senator Cortez Masto has led bipartisan efforts to help the hospitality industry recover from the coronavirus pandemic, securing much-needed flexibility for the gaming industry and delivering $750 million in funding for the Economic Development Administration to help states like Nevada that have been impacted by revenue loss in the tourism and travel industry.
A full video of the exchange can be found here.