Reid: GOP would rather default on debt than form a budget conference

Last week, the House passed the Full Faith and Credit Act, which would raise the debt ceiling only enough to pay the federal interest on debt and Social Security payments. Congress was supposed to act to raise the debt ceiling by May 18, but because the Treasury Department reworked finances, the government isn’t supposed to run out of money until later this summer.

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"This legislation ranks the nation’s debts in order of priority. In the event of a Republican-forced default, the nation would stop payments to Medicare, veterans, active-duty military service members and national security personnel, among other priorities. Instead, Republicans would pay China first," Reid said. "In addition to threatening the full faith and credit of the United States, this legislation would cost American jobs, hurt businesses and tank the economy. And it wouldn’t actually prevent default."

Reid said a better way to address the debt ceiling and fiscal challenges would be to form a conference committee between the House and Senate to work out major differences in their budget. He once again called on Republicans to stop blocking the appointment of budget conferees. GOP senators have objected to unanimous consent agreements to start the conference committee process five times in the last few weeks.

“Americans are tired of these protracted fights over the debt ceiling caused by the Tea Party-driven Republicans in Congress,” Reid said. “It's through compromise, not through hostage taking or political blackmail that we can set our nation on the road to fiscal responsibility. That compromise begins by going to conference on the budget.”

Reid said Republicans are opposing “transparency” because they would prefer to work out a deal behind closed doors ahead of going to conference.