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GOP's Jeb Hensarling: We will never default on our debt but spending has to stop

  • "We have to give the emergency spending to people in Harvey but we can't be cavalier about the passage of the debt ceiling," Jeb Hensarling says.
  • "The easiest thing that is done unfortunately in Washington is to spend money today and send the bill to our children and grandchildren," he adds.

The U.S. government will never default on its debts but must also take steps to spend much less, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling said Wednesday.

"We are a bankrupt nation and we have to pay very careful attention to the debt ceiling," the Texas Republican said on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "My iPad is awash with reports saying that our spending trajectory is unsustainable."

"The easiest thing that is done unfortunately in Washington is to spend money today and send the bill to our children and grandchildren," he added.

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said their party will support a Hurricane Harvey disaster relief package combined with an increase in the debt limit for three months.

In response, House Speaker Paul Ryan accused the Democratic leaders of "playing politics" and jeopardizing the federal response to Harvey by calling for a short-term debt limit hike.

In discussing the Democrats' offer, Hensarling said he would let Ryan speak to that but added the U.S. is still in the emergency phase in regard to Harvey.

"We've got to make sure people get the help they need, the food and the shelter. That's the most important thing we have to do right now," Hensarling said. "We have to give the emergency spending to people in Harvey but we can't be cavalier about the passage of the debt ceiling,"

"But I hope and believe that we can do something that will begin to bend the spending curve, so we don't wake up one day and become a second-rate economic power," he added.

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