Durbin: Senate Must Quickly Pass Bipartisan Debt Ceiling Agreement To Avoid First Ever Default On Our Nation’s Debt
Durbin also voiced his deep disappointment in Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Congressional Republicans who forced roughly $500 million in cuts to medical research funding as a condition for America not defaulting on its debt
WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today urged his colleagues to perform their constitutional duties by quickly passing the Fiscal Responsibility Act and preventing a first-ever default on our national debt. The bipartisan agreement avoids a default on our national debt, maintains funding for clean energy incentives, protects student debt relief for millions of borrowers, and beats back extreme cuts to programs families rely on. It protects Medicaid, and it minimizes the harmful cuts to SNAP and TANF benefits that were being demanded by Congressional Republicans, while expanding SNAP benefits for veterans, people who are homeless, and youth transitioning out of foster care.
“This is an historic day in the annals of the United States Senate because we are faced with a critical vote as to whether we can pass the bipartisan compromise on spending or default on our debt for the first time in history—whether we will fail as a nation for the first time ever, ever to pay our bills,”said Durbin. “There was a ferocious negotiation that went on for weeks. It was precipitated by the threat of one person on Capitol Hill, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who said I’m willing to risk defaulting on America’s debt… We would pay a price for that for generations to come. The reputation of the United States, the value of the United States dollar, would be in danger because of such a careless and reckless act. So negotiation was under way for the last few weeks. An agreement was reached to Speaker McCarthy’s satisfaction, and it passed the United States House of Representatives yesterday.”
Durbin continued, “Now it’s our turn in the Senate. We’ve taken a look at this agreement. First, let me say the premise is this: Defaulting on our national debt is unacceptable, unthinkable. We cannot let it occur. So as painful as some of the decisions [are] that will come from this agreement… they are virtually, at this point, inevitable to avoid default on our debt.”
Durbin went on to voice his deep disappointment in Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Congressional Republicans who forced roughly $500 million in cuts to medical research funding as a condition for America not defaulting on its debt for the first time in history. Durbin has vowed, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to work to try and reverse any harm done to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as part of this agreement.
“There is one that I want to zero in on because it means so much to everyone in this nation, and most people don’t realize that it’s been part of the debate and negotiation in this compromise. And that is the question of America’s commitment to medical research,” Durbin said. “The National Institutes of Health is the preeminent medical research institution in the world. When it comes to discovering cures for diseases, new medications, it’s the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration which are charged with that responsibility, and we lead the world in research.”
Durbin concluded, “So here’s what we face with the budget agreement that passed the House, now headed to the Senate… We’re going to see a cut in NIH spending for the first time in ten years. For ten years, we have consistently increased research funds, and they paid off. Finding that vaccine for COVID as quickly as we did was no accident. It was planned through medical research, and it saved so many thousands of lives here in the United States and beyond. So here we face for the first time in ten years a cut in the budget of the National Institutes of Health. How much of a cut? At least $500 million. And I stepped back and I thought to myself, you mean we’re going to cut medical research? That was Speaker McCarthy’s idea of fiscal conservatism? That to me is mindless.”
Durbin has long been a supporter of medical research, and he has continuously worked on a bipartisan basis to ensure that NIH and federal research institutes have the proper funding to help develop new cures and treatments for patients in need. With the support of former Republican Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Democratic Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Durbin has helped secure a nearly 60 percent funding increase for NIH over the past eight years.
Durbin is the author of the American Cures Act, which would provide annual budget increases of five percent plus inflation at America’s top four biomedical research agencies: the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program, and the Veterans Medical and Prosthetics Research Program.
Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.
Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.
Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.
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