Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) said House Republicans are "adamant" about leaving entitlements like Social Security and Medicare untouched as lawmakers battle over the debt ceiling.
Banks' comments came after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen informed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) last week that the U.S. government has hit the $31.3 trillion debt ceiling. Yellen told McCarthy she would use "extraordinary measures" to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debt.
Banks told CBS New's Robert Costa that House Republicans have a "duty to use that majority the American people gave us to address real spending reforms."
News here from House Republican Jim Banks, a former chair of the conservative Republican Study Committee and Sen candidate: He doesn’t believe Soc. Sec, Medicare, or Medicaid cuts should be on the table with debt-limit negotiations.
Exchange starts 2:59 https://t.co/NIRk8Z8WhA
— Robert Costa (@costareports) January 24, 2023
"So The debt limit sets up an opportunity for us to have a serious conversation. I hope that Democrats will come to the table," Banks said. "I hope President Biden will come to the table. I hope that Senate Leader Schumer and the Senate Democrats will come to the table with House Republicans and talk about what we can agree on. That's what a negotiation is all about."
"Do you want Social Security and Medicare to be on the table as part of these negotiations?" Costa asked Banks.
"No," Banks emphatically responded. "I can speak on behalf of the vast majority of Republicans in the majority: I don't think that any of us want to touch Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, programs that seniors and others are relying on today or who will soon rely on those programs."
"Now, there's an adamant push as much as I've ever seen in the Republican Party not to touch those programs. We can make reforms in the future — well into the future — to sustain programs like Social Security for later generations to save the program," Banks added.
Banks proposed cutting spending for federal agencies that were "bloated" during the pandemic.
"I think those are areas where we can start, but the easy solution today is look at where we can cut wasteful spending," Banks continued. "I mean, in the name of COVID, trillions of dollars were spent — some of it to address the pandemic, a lot of it had nothing to do with the pandemic — that bloated every single federal agency."
Banks warned that if Congress does not make meaningful reforms, the next generation of Americans will "bear the brunt of a $32 trillion, and growing, national debt." He continued, "And if we just punt on it and we just pass a clean debt limit increase once again, then it just means that my daughter's generation, our kids and our grandkids, are going to see that $32 trillion national debt go to 40, to 50 trillion, and beyond."
Banks' comments echo former President Donald Trump's warning to House Republicans, advising them to keep those entitlement programs off the table during debt ceiling negotiations.
"Under no circumstances should Republicans vote to cut a single penny from medicare or social security to help pay for Joe Biden's reckless spending spree, which is more reckless than anybody's ever done or had in the history of our country," Trump said .
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