Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) reiterated on Sunday that House Republicans would not allow a clean vote to raise the debt limit and ensure the full faith and credit of the United States of America. But while now Congressional Republicans demand everything from the destruction of the Affordable Care Act to a constitutional amendment in exchange for allowing the government to pay for what it has already incurred, many of them made no such demands nine years ago when a Republican was in the White House.
Boehner says that Congressional Republicans “are not going to pass a clean debt limit increase” because “it is time to deal with America’s problems.” But in 2004, he joined with 205 other House Republicans to pass S. 2986, a bill that added $800 billion to the nation’s statutory debt ceiling with no strings attached.
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), in encouraging his House colleagues to back the bill said:
[A]s we debate this and as we make our final vote, let us not punish our seniors, let us not punish our elderly, let us not punish our military just to score political points. If the debt ceiling is not increased, America cannot pay its bills. We cannot meet existing obligations. We will not ultimately have the cash on hand to pay Social Security benefits, military retirement, Medicare benefits, unemployment benefits and other trust fund obligations. As raw as this recent election was, as bitterly contested as it was, with hurt feelings all around, we need to work together as Americans to take responsibility for our bills. Let us not default on our obligations. Let us not stop the checks to our needy who are counting on us. Let us not use our elderly as political pawns in trade for a seven second sound byte back home. They deserve better. We have a responsibility to pay our bills.
Brady, Boehner, House Republican Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and 84 other House Republicans who are still serving in Congress today voted for the bill (10 of whom are now Senators).
In the Senate, 50 Republicans — 17 of whom are still serving today — voted for the identical bill. Among them was Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who explained the bill was “necessary to preserve the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government.” He observed that “without an increase in the debt limit, our Government will face a choice between breaking the law by exceeding the statutory debt limit, or breaking faith with the public by defaulting on our debt. Neither choice is acceptable.”
In total, Congressional Republican leaders backed five separate debt ceiling increases during Bush’s eight years in the White House. The still-serving Republicans heeding President George W. Bush’s call for a clean debt limit increase in 2004 were: