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LaHood says House Republicans want to put all spending on the table in upcoming fight over raising debt ceiling

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, has announced he's running for re-election in the newly drawn Illinois 16th Congressional District.
Seth Perlman/AP
U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Dunlap, has announced he's running for re-election in the newly drawn Illinois 16th Congressional District.

The United States is expected to hit the debt ceiling this week.

That isn't quite as dire as it sounds on its face. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she can employ "extraordinary measures" to stave off a default on the national debt until June.

The battles over raising the federal debt limit is a common one on Capitol Hill. Congress can raise the limits on how much money the government can borrow to avoid hitting the debt ceiling. The new Republican House majority in Washington plans to use the debt ceiling as a bargaining chip to obtain concessions on federal spending.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Dunlap) said "there's real frustration" in his party over federal spending, including the $1.7 trillion omnibus bill passed by the Democrat-controlled lame-duck Congress last month.

"That was rammed down our throats. We had 24 hours to look at it. It's those type of things that are concerning," LaHood told a WCBU reporter on Friday. "So we have time, over the next three or four months here, to sit down with our Democrat colleagues find ways that we can get us on the path to fiscal solvency so that we can avoid defaulting on our debt."

He said federal spending should be frozen at last year's levels, to start. Then he said it's time to start taking a look at paring down on that spending.

"I think everything has to be on the table. I think defense spending has to be on the table. I think social programs have to be on the table," LaHood said. "We have to look at all programs across the board. And I don't think you can spare any of those things."

For the Dunlap Republican, that includes programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. LaHood said he doesn't support cutting benefits to current Social Security recipients, or people eligible for benefits in the next five years.

"But people that are coming into the system, we have to look at new ways to become more efficient, more effective, more accountable when it comes to our social programs," he said.

He said he doesn't support defaulting on the national debt, however.

The Washington Post reports Democrats do not want to negotiate over the debt ceiling.

"This should be done without conditions," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, according to a transcript of Friday's White House press briefing. "In the past, we have seen this — we have seen both Republicans and Democrats come together to deal with this issue. It is a — it is one of the basic items that Congress has to deal with, and it should be done without condition."

LaHood said he believes the House Republican majority will serve as a check on the Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Senate in the new years.

"There'll be bipartisan things we can work together on. But there will also be things that I think we have to put up, you know, have a firm stand when it comes to the principles we believe in," he said.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.