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Neal calls for debt ceiling deal

Springfield U.S. Representative Richard Neal (D) addresses an event at Elms College in Chicopee
Adam Frenier
Springfield U.S. Representative Richard Neal (D) addresses an event at Elms College in Chicopee

Springfield U.S. Representative Richard Neal said Congress has no choice but to extend the debt ceiling. His comments Tuesday came amid a warning the nation could default on its debts as soon as June 1.

Democrats are pushing to extend the borrowing limit, while Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy wants any increase tied to spending cuts.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellin said this week lawmakers must take action soon to avoid hitting the debt ceiling.

Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, said there needs to be a separation between dealing with debt and budgeting.

"This is not an argument about new spending, this is an argument about paying our bills. So, I'm very comfortable with the vote I would take on this and I think that some of the demagoguery that has surrounded this is reckless,” Neal said.

Neal also agreed with some economists who say a default could touch off a global economic crisis.

"The American dollar is the international currency of the world,” he said. “The rest of the world pegs their currency denominations to the American dollar. No matter where you travel, if you put that dollar on the table, it is redeemed.”

Neal said he agrees with the approach of President Joe Biden to first deal with the debt issue before taking up any talks about spending.

He also said there are certain programs that should not be on the chopping block under any circumstances.

“If there are those that wish to cut veterans' benefits, if there are those that wish to cut Social Security and Medicare, I think they should tell the American people precisely that. I'm not one of them."

He made his comments during an appearance at Elms College in Chicopee, where he announced $1 million in federal funding for the school’s social work and education programs.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.