Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin warned that national security might be jeopardized and soldiers could be underpaid. That situation could be possible if Congress fails to increase the US debt ceiling before the nation defaults By Oct. 18, lawmakers must vote on raising or suspending the debt limit, or risk missing a payment to creditors, resulting in a historic national default.
“If the United States defaults, it would undermine the economic strength on which our national security rests,” he wrote in a statement. “It would also seriously harm our service members and their families because, as Secretary, I would have no authority or ability to ensure that our service members, civilians, or contractors would be paid in full or on time,” he added.
National Security Could Suffer From Debt Ceiling Crisis
The Department of Defense, the country’s largest employer, warned that payments to major corporations and thousands of small companies may be delayed, jeopardizing American operations.
According to Austin (per US News), the benefits for 2.4 million military retirees and 400,000 veterans would be jeopardized. If Congress fails to act, he said tens of millions of Social Security beneficiaries may have their payments delayed.
His comments came only minutes after a bipartisan group of six former Defense Secretaries wrote to legislative leaders asking them to raise or suspend the debt ceiling as quickly as possible.
Ex-Defense Secretaries William Perry, William Cohen, Leon Panetta, Chuck Hagel, Ashton Carter, and James Mattis have urged Congress to “authorize the government to pay expenses that it has already incurred.”
Raising or suspending the debt limit does not authorize additional expenditure; rather, it enables the Treasury Department to continue paying receipts for appropriation bills previously approved by Congress.
Federal Gov’t Should Be Setting Aside Money For Military Workers
According to the previous secretaries, the federal government has set aside money for federal contractors who run our military facilities at home and overseas and maintain critical defense technology. Ex-secretaries argue that the government should not expect all-volunteer military personnel to serve the country without compensation. They claim that citizens will not have access to a highly competent military to fight and win the nation’s conflicts if the government does this.
They wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.
Debt Ceiling Extension Could Cause Recession
A first-ever US default would not only postpone payments to soldiers, but it would also likely cause a recession in the United States, according to experts.
Despite the gravity of the implications, CNBC said Democrats and Republicans seem to be at odds only 12 days before the deadline.
Senate Republicans are preventing Democrats from enacting a debt limit increase or suspension under normal Senate procedures by threatening to filibuster. Instead of a simple majority, a filibuster would compel Democrats to seek at least 60 votes in a Senate divided 50-50 to go forward with a measure.
Republicans argue that Democrats should instead approve a debt-ceiling resolution via a special rule known as reconciliation, which enables some bills to pass with a simple majority in the chamber.
Since the majority seems set on enacting a multibillion-dollar climate and anti-poverty package using the same procedure, McConnell has argued that Democrats should utilize reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling for weeks.
RELATED ARTICLE: Senate Approves Starving Off Debt Ceiling Until December