WYSOX — U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.-9) visited Bradford County on Saturday to discuss a variety of issues in 2023 with elected officials and community members at the Towanda Golf Club.
Meuser discussed the election of U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.-20) as speaker of the House of Representatives.
“That was a little bit raucous,” Meuser said about the speaker vote.
McCarthy gained the speakership on Jan. 7 after 15 ballots and days of turmoil, in which members of the ultra-conservative wing of his party refused to support him unless he gave into their demands. They wanted “more opportunities to amend bills and have extended debate, and they want to restore the ability of any lawmaker to force a vote on whether to remove the future speaker,” according to the Associated Press. “McCarthy flipped more than a dozen conservative holdouts to become supporters, including the chairman of the chamber’s Freedom Caucus.”
“I was behind Speaker McCarthy from the beginning as long as many of the rules and negotiations that were taking place behind closed doors in our conference were accepted by him because we needed to tighten things up,” Meuser explained. “We needed some commitments. We needed a higher level of accountability. We needed more inclusion from the conservatives.”
He stated that backing McCarthy wasn’t fully popular in his congressional district. His office received 21 calls from people asking him to vote against McCarthy. However, Meuser stood by McCarthy and supported him during the voting process. He stated that McCarthy is a smart, tough and patriotic individual.
“He’s a fighter and I do think he lives up to his word. I mean, he does come across as sort of a politician-type to some. He’s been doing it a while, so I guess that’s one of the reasons, but I think we are in very good hands with new rules,” Meuser said. “All of that you saw definitely made us stronger. It made us unite. It aired all of our dirty laundry, that was easy to see. I mean we almost had people almost come to physical blows on the House floor, which was kind of entertaining.”
During the voting process, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.-9) restrained fellow Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.-3) as he approached and shouted at initial holdout, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.-1).
“[Rogers is] a friend of mine. Probably the last person you would think would get that agitated at Matt Gaetz,” Meuser said. “It’s not too hard to get agitated at Matt Gaetz, but he’s one of us. He’s alright. He and I have one-on-one debates. There’s no talking with Matt, it’s always a debate by the way, but it’s good.”
He stated the House Republicans have crafted an agenda focused on national security, American energy, border security and strengthen the U.S. economy and military.
“The world needs that. The world needs America to lead. We’ve got to have the strongest economy. We’ve got to have the strongest military,” he said.
Meuser stated that a major goal of the Republican House majority is to keep spending in check. This comes as the White House and Republicans face off for negotiations to raise the nation’s debt ceiling limit. McCarthy has stated that he “wants to address spending cuts along with raising the debt limit, even though the White House has ruled out linking those two issues together,” according to AP. McCarthy will meet with President Joe Biden to discuss the debt ceiling on Wednesday. The U.S. currently passed the ceiling of $31.4 trillion. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, the U.S. will default on its debts.
“A default could cause millions of job losses, a deep recession that would reverberate globally and, ironically, higher interest rates that would make it harder to manage the federal debt,” according to AP.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the national debt was around $23.5 trillion, according to the Treasury Department. The U.S. began spending trillions of dollars to assist in COVID-19 relief, which added to the debt.
“The U.S. government has run a deficit averaging nearly $1 trillion every year since 2001,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations website.
“Notable recent events triggering large spikes in the debt include the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, the 2008 Great Recession, and the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the Treasury Department. “From FY 2019 to FY 2021, spending increased by about 50%, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax cuts, stimulus programs, increased government spending, and decreased tax revenue caused by widespread unemployment generally account for sharp rises in the national debt.”
“We had $4 trillion of debt. Our deficits went up by $4 trillion during COVID,” Meuser said. “For the Biden administration to come in and add to that level of spending and think it’s a wonderful idea to spend another $5.5 trillion in the last two years, that’s what’s been done. It’s madness.”
He stated that the money is being wasted in many ways. When it comes to the debt ceiling, he insisted that the U.S. will not default on its debts.
“The United States has never defaulted. The United States cannot default. We are the reserve currency of the world,” Meuser said. “All we are saying to President Biden is we are not going to let it happen again. You had the credit card, you exceeded your limit by a lot, like trillions of dollars.”
He stated that the House Republicans will live up to its debt obligations, but they will also maintain their goal of keeping spending in check.
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