Democrats are seizing on an admission from House Speaker John Boehner that a Republican-led bill to prioritise debt payments would pay China before U.S. troops.
During an interview with Bloomberg TV on Tuesday, Boehner was asked about the Full Faith and Credit act, which is expected to come to a House vote this week.
The bill would prioritise the nation’s payments in the event it hits the debt ceiling. It would direct the U.S. Treasury to pay bondholders to avoid immediate default. Democrats have said that the strategy would force the U.S. to pay China before its own troops.
When Bloomberg’s Peter Cook asked Boehner about Democrats’ suggestions, he did not dismiss them.
“Those who have loaned us money, like in any other proceeding, if you will — the bondholders usually get paid first. Same thing,” Boehner said.
Cook followed up and asked Boehner if he was worried about the politics of that strategy.
“Not at all,” Boehner said. “I just think it’s another tool that we can use to help impress upon the administration if it comes to the point where they don’t have enough money to pay all the bills, here’s some order that we think is sound.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office blasted out the clip of Boehner Wednesday morning, adding that Boehner candidly admitted that the bill would force payments to China before troops, veterans, and doctors and hospitals that treat Medicare payments.
A Senate Democratic aide told Business Insider that the proposal would be a non-starter in the Senate if it passes the House. The White House has also threatened to veto the legislation.
Still, the aide was surprised that Boehner would employ this strategy at all.
“The message of the bill is terrible and no one takes it seriously as a piece of legislation, since it’s a nonstarter in the Senate and the President would veto it in any event,” the aide said. “Doing nothing would probably be smarter for them than doing this bill.”
The U.S. isn’t expected to need to raise its debt limit until October, according to some recent estimates.
Here’s the clip of Boehner discussing the bill on Tuesday:
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