House Democrats on Wednesday afternoon mocked House Republicans for bringing up a resolution disapproving of another $500 billion increase in the debt ceiling, arguing that it is meant only as political theater to assuage GOP voters that Republicans are serious about the deficit.
“We have members on the majority side who have trouble explaining to their primary voters why they had a temporary embrace of reality,” said Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), referring to the bipartisan decision to increase the debt ceiling one month ago. “So having done what they had to do, they now want to pretend that they’re going to undo it.”
The debt-ceiling deal called for an immediate $400 billion increase in the debt ceiling, and another $500 billion increase this month. This second increase can be rejected by a House-Senate resolution of disapproval, although the Senate’s rejection of a similar resolution means the effort cannot succeed, even if it passes the House.
Frank criticized Republicans further by saying that Congress needed to raise the debt ceiling because of the wars and tax cuts that were not paid for.
“We have a majority that has a problem with reality,” Frank said. “They have a problem with reality in the field of science, they have a problem with reality in the field of the economy. One of the manifestations of that is their objections to raising the debt limit that was in large part necessary because of debt they incurred.”
Several Republicans rose to speak in favor of the resolution by saying the government needs to rein in spending. But Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) questioned how Republicans who voted for the debt-ceiling deal in August could now vote to re-create a debt crisis that roiled markets and brought the nation to the brink of possible default on its debt.
In one exchange, Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) called on Republicans and Democrats to join him in supporting the resolution. Levin shot back, “Working together won’t work if you undo the work that we did together.”
Democrats also argued that the Senate’s rejection of this resolution last week makes House consideration pointless. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) seemed to implicitly concede that point when he said he hopes the vote shows President Obama “how serious we are about this issue.”
“This war on our national debt is going to go on for many years to come, but we need to take those first steps,” Reed said in support of the resolution.
Levin and other Democrats also charged Republicans with wasting time that could be better spent working on legislation aimed at creating jobs.
“This resolution is a dangerous distraction from the unprecedented challenge before us,” he said.
House Republicans have all but rejected Obama’s jobs plan because it proposes paying for billions of dollars in new spending through tax increases.
A House vote on the resolution is expected shortly after 3 p.m.