Sen. Lee: $22 Billion in Debt Ceiling Bill ‘Goes into a Slush Fund at Dept. of Commerce that Nobody Knows What It Does’

Craig Bannister | June 1, 2023
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The purported savings in the bipartisan debt ceiling bill passed by the House Wednesday are actually “worse than fake” and “more costly than what we had in place before,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) warned Thursday in a Fox & Friends interview.

Many of the claims made by Republicans who voted for the bill simply aren’t true, Sen. Lee said. The pay-as-you-go provision included in the bill, for example, is actually rendered null and void by another provision, the senator explained.

And, while the bill rescinds pandemic spending, it uses a smoke-and-mirrors tactic to move $22 billion of that money into an amorphous slush fund with no known purpose, Lee said:

“As to the $28 billion in claw-backs that you refer to: $22 billion of that immediately goes into a slush fund at the Department of Commerce that nobody knows what it does.”

Likewise, while House Republicans may claim the bill reins in Democrats’ plan to expand the IRS, the actual reduction in spending is insignificant, Lee said:

“And, as for the IRS spending, we’re talking about, I believe, less than $2 billion that will be saved out of that – out of $80 billion. This is not at all what they promised. This is not at all how they’ve sold this.

“And, it’s not adequate to deal with our $32 trillion debt which, by the way, is likely to go up to $36 trillion debt by the end of the next year and a half.”

“The compromise reached between Biden and McCarthy, which retains 98% of the IRS expansion – 98% - is nothing short of a surrender,” Sen. Lee said Wednesday, in remarks on the Senate floor:

“Armed with a hefty budget and a woke agenda, the IRS will become an even stronger instrument of political bias and partisan manipulation.”

“This deal begs the question: with Republicans like these, who needs Democrats?” Lee said. “We deserve better. We deserve a deal that genuinely reflects the urgency of our economic challenges and delivers meaningful results.”

The bill represents “a blank check” that “grants the Treasury authority to issue debt without any numerical limit to restraint its appetite, Sen. Lee warned.

Many of the House Republicans who voted for the bill may have just been “naive,” Sen. Lee said Thursday. Two days earlier, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) made a similar, but more critical claim:

“Republicans got outsmarted by a President who can’t find his pants.”

The business and economic reporting of is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.