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OPINION | BRUCE WESTERMAN: Lawmakers need to team up on debt limit

by BRUCE WESTERMAN SPECIAL TO THE COMMERCIAL | January 21, 2023 at 2:29 a.m.

The United States has officially hit our $31.4 trillion debt limit.

In response, the Treasury Department is embarking on "extraordinary" measures to ensure the federal government has enough money to stay afloat. Before we dig a little deeper into this, let's get one thing clear -- it was "extraordinary" and wildly irresponsible spending that got us to this point in the first place.

In December 2021, Congress voted to raise the debt limit to pay for the historic influx of spending amid the covid-19 era. President Biden was a strong supporter of fast-tracking the process to raise the debt limit then, and it sent us even deeper into a never-ending spiral of spending and debt. And now look where we are. Not even 13 months later, we're right back in this same situation again.

In the meantime, the Treasury Department will continue to enact "extraordinary" measures and will move money around to remain under the cap and keep the government afloat, but this won't last forever. If the Treasury Department exhausts all extraordinary measures, it will be unable to pay bills and force us to default on our debt -- something that would be economically devastating and could result in a global financial crisis. We cannot let this happen.

It's time to look in the mirror and face the facts -- our nation has a debt problem, and it's Congress' job to fix it. Our national debt has always been a cause of great concern for me and my Republican colleagues in the House. And although hitting the debt limit raises serious economic fears, I believe we have been presented with a unique opportunity to enact positive, proactive change in the federal government's spending habits. But we cannot make those changes or cut spending without bipartisan conversations. Raising the debt limit ensures that we pay the credit card bill. What we have to do is make sure that in the future, we're not creating a new, unwieldy bill. The only lasting way to ensure that we control our debt is to work across the aisle to do so, and I am ready to get to work.

It is my hope that the Biden Administration will work proactively with House Republicans as we work diligently to prioritize spending, cut back on unnecessary spending, streamline and lower costs and strengthen our national security and economy so we can end this cycle of out-of-control debt growth. These are the first steps in getting America back on the right track.

Bruce Westerman, a Republican, represents the 4th Congressional District of Arkansas in the U.S. Congress. The district includes most of Jefferson County.

Print Headline: Team up on debt limit


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