GOP Bill Would Prioritize Payments to Debt Interest, Social Security and Military Pay

James Zilenziger | July 27, 2011 | 2:40pm EDT
Font Size

Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Penn.). (AP Photo)

Washington ( - A group of congressional Republicans unveiled the “Ensuring the Full Faith and Credit of the United States and Protecting America’s Soldiers and Seniors Act” on Tuesday. The legislation would require the Treasury secretary to prioritize payments on interest on the national debt, Social Security and military pay.

“What our bill would do is it would instruct the Treasury secretary in the event that the debt ceiling is not raised prior to August 2 to make certain obligations priorities so that they will be paid in full, on time, and without delay,” Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa) said during a Capitol Hill news conference announcing the legislation.

“The three priorities are simple,” he said. “First, it’s interest on our debt, so that we will not default on our debt and not plunge our economy into chaos. Second, Social Security payments because millions of senior citizens, including my parents, depend on Social Security payments that they’ve earned by virtue of their own prior contributions to the system. And, finally, the payroll for active duty military personnel, because the men and women who are risking their lives for us should not have to worry about whether their families will receive their income in a timely fashion.”   

According to Toomey, who cited figures from the Bipartisan Policy Center, more than half of the revenue from the month of August will still be left over after payments are made to debt interest, senior citizens, and active military personnel.

“For the period from August 3 through August 31, total revenue will be at least $173 billion, perhaps much more,” Toomey said. “And the combined costs of paying the interest on our debt, Social Security payments, and active duty military pay will be about $81 billion -- so, less than half of the revenue that will be coming in during the month of August.”  

(AP Photo)

When asked by a reporter who would not be paid under the legislation, Toomey said that any money left over after taking care of priorities would be left to the discretion of the Obama administration.

“This specifies the top priorities equally weighted: avoid default on our debt by paying the interest to our bond holders, pay the benefits to Social Security beneficiaries on time, as scheduled, and pay the active duty military personnel,” Toomey said.

“That leaves many tens, maybe hundreds of billions of dollars left over -- certainly hundreds of billions, depending on the time frame, and that we would leave to the discretion of the administration for whatever short period of time this would ensue," said the senator.

mrc merch