Speaking to a room full of local elected officials and other community stakeholders at Laurel Ridge Community College on Friday, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., touted Democrats’ accomplishments over the last two years and emphasized the party’s willingness to seek bipartisanship with Republicans in Congress on several major bills that were passed on infrastructure, climate, prescription drug costs, semiconductors and guns.
During the event, hosted by the Fauquier Chamber of Commerce, Warner also expressed frustration that his Republican colleagues have “threatened” to oppose increasing the nation’s debt limit, which he noted would wreak economic havoc on the global economy.
“We screw up on this debt ceiling, your stock market, you’re going to see carnage,” Warner told one Fauquier resident and business owner who asked how the debt ceiling would impact people like him.
Last week, the U.S. hit its debt limit, which is the total amount of money the federal government is authorized to borrow to meet its financial obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds and other payments.
The U.S. Treasury has employed several measures to ensure the government can still pay its bills through June. But it is unclear whether Congress will find a way to increase the debt ceiling or default on its debt, potentially resulting in another recession.
Warner, who serves as chair of the Select Committee on Intelligence and is a member of the Senate Finance, Banking, Budget, and Rules Committee, described the debt ceiling as a “political hand grenade” that does nothing but “create chaos.”
Republican lawmakers have vowed to vote against raising the debt ceiling unless Democrats promise to reduce spending. But Warner argued Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times during Donald Trump’s administration “without injury.”
Warner did note that several colleagues on his side of the aisle “refused to acknowledge” government spending on programs, such as Social Security, is disproportionate to the amount of revenue being generated.
But he noted adjusting the cost of Social Security needs to be handled in a “systematic way” rather than “scare the heck out of people and make them think they’re going to lose their Social Security.”