Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Wednesday slammed the debt-limit bill headed for passage in the House as a “fake response to burdensome debt” and declared he “will emphatically vote no.”
Lee warned the nation’s debt, which currently sits at just less than $32 trillion, “will soon escalate to $36 trillion under this awful deal.”
“One cannot help be seized by a sense of awful foreboding,” he said on the Senate floor. “Instead of confronting this existential threat head-on, this deal is wracked with complacency and false cowardly compromise.
“It represents the victory of expediency over integrity. I cannot support it,” he said.
Lee argued the compromise is substantially weaker than the Budget Control Act, which a Republican-controlled House negotiated with then-President Obama in 2011 in exchange for raising the debt limit.
He pointed out that the statutory spending caps in the bill last for only two years and then disappear.
“The supposed savings are largely, in fact, almost entirely illusory. The bill contains a mandatory two-year caps deal for the discretionary spending. But in reality, the spending limits for … the out years are unenforceable and easily waived,” he said. “It’s a shell game of sorts.”
Lee also took aim at language in the bill he believes essentially guts the pay-as-you-go requirement that the legislation purportedly puts on direct spending by the executive branch.
The administrative pay-as-you-go language in the bill would require agencies to submit plans to the Office of Management and Budget to offset the costs of any new rule that increases direct spending by more than $1 billion over 10 years or more than $100 million in one year.
But it also includes language that allows President Biden’s budget director, Shalanda Young, to waive the requirement if she deems it “necessary” to do so.
Lee argued on the floor that language renders the pay-as-you-go reform “completely toothless.”
“This is the fox in charge of the henhouse. And granting the fox discretion to determine when the rules apply and when they can be cast aside. If the fox wants to consume the hen, the fox will if the fox deems it necessary,” he said.