Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) spoke about a possible government shutdown in an apparent mix-up with a possible debt default before claiming that the U.S. can pay off its bills “just like in business.”
Burchett’s remarks were made hours before news broke that President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) reached a tentative deal to raise the debt ceiling; the agreement still would need to pass the House and Senate. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the government will default if the debt ceiling is not raised by June 5.
On Saturday, Burchett seemingly mistook a government shutdown — which occurs when Congress doesn’t agree on government funding — with a government debt default — an unprecedented occurrence where the U.S. Treasury can’t borrow money to pay its obligations. As NPR noted last week, the former happens somewhat regularly and causes disruption, while the latter has never happened before and would likely result in permanent damage including higher borrowing costs.
“We need to get back to reality and stop spending money out of control, that’s the bottom line. ... I voted to shut the government down under [Donald] Trump and I’ll do it under Biden,” Burchett told CNN’s Jim Acosta.
Acosta swiftly checked Burchett on his remarks, reminding him a government debt default is not the same as a government shutdown.
Burchett then characterized the default as a “delay.”
“[It’s] not a default, it’s a delay. Just like in business, you put something off, you pay it off. If you can’t pay it off this week, we pay it off next week. And this is irresponsible for us to say anything other than that,” said Burchett, who made headlines after he declared Congress was “not going to fix” mass shootings following the deadly Nashville school shooting in March.