Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) became the first Republican senator to come out against using the debt ceiling as leverage for spending cuts, contradicting Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republicans who favor such a tactic.
In an interview with the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner published Tuesday, Murkowski said, “If you incur an obligation, you have a responsibility to pay for that." According to the paper, "Murkowski said spending cuts are crucial but shouldn't be tied to the debt ceiling debate."
"Murkowski, at a News-Miner editorial board meeting on Jan. 9, said she doesn’t think the debt limit should be used for political leverage," wrote reporter Jeff Richardson. "Murkowski said not all of her colleagues in the Senate will say it out loud, but she believes most agree that failing to raise the debt limit would harm perception of the country."
President Barack Obama wants a clean increase in the nation's $16.4 trillion debt limit and warned congressional Republicans Monday not to use it to extract spending cuts. "They will not collect a ransom in exchange for not crashing the economy," he said. "The full faith and credit of the United States economy is not a bargaining chip. And they better choose quickly because time is running short. The last time Republicans in Congress even flirted with this idea, our AAA credit rating was down for the first time in our history."
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Monday that the nation will exhaust its borrowing limit in mid-February to early March.
McConnell wants to use the debt ceiling debate to extract spending cuts. "The President and his allies need to get serious about spending, and the debt-limit debate is the perfect time for it," he said in a statement Tuesday. Other Republican Senators have supported the gambit. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, has said the GOP has "leverage" to extract spending cuts in the debt ceiling fight.