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Debt Ceiling Vote: Does It Help Or Hurt The Tea Party?07:28

This article is more than 6 years old.

House Republicans are reeling from the passage of a "no strings attached" debt ceiling increase that included no concessions from Democrats. Republicans demanded that spending cuts also be included in the bill.

Twenty-eight Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, voted with the Democrats — a move seen by many in his party as a betrayal.

Republican Congressman Joe Barton of Texas, a member of the Tea Party Caucus, joins Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson to discuss why he voted against raising the debt limit, and where he stands on calls to replace the Speaker of the House.

Interview Highlights: Rep. Joe Barton

On why he voted against the bill

"Interest on the debt right now is $300 billion, or a little over 6 percent of the total federal budget, and entitlement spending is $2.2 trillion and it's over 62 percent, so you add those together. Over two-thirds of the budget is, right now, uncontrollable, and we're not doing anything to change that. And this wasn't a vote to raise the debt ceiling, this was a vote to suspend it. Doesn't do anything to solve the long-term problem, and just basically gives the president and the treasury secretary not even a blank check, it just tells them they can go to the cash window and go and get as much money as they want, for whatever reason they want, and they're not accountable for it. And I think that's wrong."

"There's enough cash flow to pay all the current obligations that the federal government has to pay. The United States government is not gonna default on bills that come due. We haven't ever and we're not gonna do it. And if we had voted not to raise the debt ceiling, but to address the problem immediately, we would not have gone into default."

On the Treasury Department's warning that funds are running out

"The Treasury Department has not told the truth. They've not told the truth, okay? The federal government takes in in the neighborhood of $3 trillion in cash, and that is more than enough to pay the interest on the public debts, social security, which has its own trust fund. Admittedly, it's a trust fund that's dwindling, but the social security receipts that are coming in are more than enough to pay current social security. You just go down through the list of things and you eventually get to things that are discretionary, that can be deferred, things like that. We're not gonna default."

On criticism that Tea Party Republicans are unwilling to reach across the aisle

"The president is a Democrat and the majority in the Senate is a Democrat. They're the ones that said they wouldn't negotiate. They're the ones that said, nope. They talked about this 'clean' debt ceiling. Well, the clean debt ceiling is really a dirty deal for the American people, and I don't think it's wrong to tell the truth to the American people, and the truth is that we're spending more than we're taking in, and it's getting worse, not better. And the sooner we begin to address that problem, the better off in the long term we'll be. Hopefully next March we'll have that debate. I wouldn't bet the bank on it, but I'll be one of those members, if I'm still in the Congress, to try to make sure that we have that debate."


  • Joe Barton, Republican who has represented Texas's 6th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1985. He tweets @RepJoeBarton.

This segment aired on February 13, 2014.

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