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Rep. John Lewis Blasts Republican Pay China First Bill

May 9, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Rep. John Lewis joined other members of the House Ways and Means Committee today in an effort to derail the “Pay China First Bill,” H.R.804.  Republicans have waged an unprecedented battle against raising the debt limit of the United States which is required in order for America to pay its bills.  The debt ceiling has been raised without issue many times before, especially during the terms of Republican presidents, like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, who led Americans into eras of unprecedented deficit spending and debt. 

New York Times article  suggests economists see the focus on the deficit and Republican attempts to force austerity are hurting the economic recovery.  Standards and Poors has already said it would downgrade the U.S. credit rating if the debt prioritization bill advanced by Republicans was made law.  The bill develops a protocol and prioritizes America’s debts by enabling the Treasury Department to pick and choose which bills it would pay first in the case of default.  Rep. John Lewis has led Democratic opposition to this plan.  He made this statement on the House floor today:

Madame Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the Pay China First Act. We are the United States of America, and we pay our bills.

Madame Speaker, I cannot believe that this body would even entertain or consider a bill that puts the Social Security checks of 56 million seniors and people after China?   How can we justify putting 2 million American military personnel -- many of whom are currently in harm’s way – after China?  That is not right; that is not fair.

As a Congress we can do better, much better.  Let me be crystal clear – default is not an option.  The United States of America pays all of its bills as they come due.  This is the American way. 

Let’s just stop playing games, and do what is right, do what is just, do what is fair.  Let’s do what every American citizen has to do -- pay our debts.  I urge each and every one of my colleagues to vote no on the Pay China First Act.  We have a moral obligation to do what is right.