The clock is ticking louder by the hour on Capitol Hill, with the chance of default now as little as a week away. While negotiations continue, Democrats from New York are warning about the potential ripple effects from Buffalo to Brooklyn and beyond if the debt ceiling is not raised.
“The Republican Party right now is behaving like economic terrorists, holding the global economy hostage,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman, who represents The Bronx and Westchester County.
“Seniors who are dependent upon their Social Security, they’re going to hurt,” Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks said.
New York Republicans who spoke with Spectrum News 1 sidestepped questions about the potential impacts, insisting Congress will act in time. As of publication on Thursday evening, no deal had yet been reached between White House and House Republican negotiators.
“We don't have a debt ceiling crisis, we have a spending crisis in this country caused by the progressive policies of the Biden administration,” Syracuse-area Rep. Brandon Williams said.
“We can neither default, nor can we sustain the rate of spending,” Rep. Marc Molinaro said, arguing the White House waited too long to engage in negotiations.
"The Republican Party right now is behaving like economic terrorists, holding the global economy hostage," Rep. @JamaalBowmanNY told me today, with default projected in just one week.#debtceiling pic.twitter.com/yIqj2Y1kIU— Kevin Frey (@KevinFreyTV) May 25, 2023
Some Democrats are reportedly concerned that with negotiations happening largely behind closed doors, Republicans are winning the messaging war. However, New York Democrats largely declined to publicly cast blame on the Biden administration.
“The White House is doing the best they can,” Bronx Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday.
“We’ve got to be more aggressive and we’ve got to be more clear. We’ve got to be honest and we’ve got to communicate with love so people know the truth and what's going on,” Bowman said, arguing it is on all Democrats to up their messaging.
One area where Democrats have been aggressive is outlining what they say the GOP’s plan to lift the debt ceiling could mean for the nation’s veterans.
Last month, House Republicans passed their bill to avoid default - their opening salvo in negotiations. The bill coupled raising the debt ceiling with widespread budget cuts. In the weeks since, the House Democrats’ campaign arm - the DCCC - has accused Republican lawmakers in competitive districts - including in New York’s Hudson Valley and near Syracuse - of putting veterans programs on the chopping block.
Although the GOP bill reportedly did not specify cutting the Department of Veterans Affairs, it also did not shield it.
“The money has to come from somewhere when you make cuts across the board,” said Democratic Rep. Pat Ryan in an interview Thursday. Republicans in New York’s swing districts insist they will provide funding through the regular budgeting process.
“It's an outright lie that quite frankly doesn't astonish me,” Molinaro said. “We have already moved forward with robust veterans funding.”
In the immediate term, any default could have an impact on veterans who receive benefit payments and every other American who relies on federal government services.