Statement by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Failure of Congress To Pass Appropriations and National Debt Ceiling Bills

November 13, 1985

Because of failure by Congress to act on appropriations bills and on legislation to raise the ceiling on the national debt, our country faces an unprecedented crisis in our history. It is an unnecessary crisis, and it can be avoided. But the President cannot stand by and wait for the worst to happen, including dishonoring the Government's checks.

We cannot avoid some serious damage. However, to mitigate the problem, the President has authorized the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Jim Miller, to instruct the Federal agencies, starting Friday, to stop issuing any new checks if the debt ceiling is not raised by then. The Government would continue to function, but it would temporarily stop paying its bills -- to vendors, to its own employees, to individuals receiving government benefits, to State and local governments -- until this crisis is resolved. We are not going to issue checks that will bounce.

The hardship this will cause would be solely the result of congressional failure to do what everyone knows is necessary. We trust that Congress will understand the consequences of its inaction.

Note: Larry M. Speakes read the statement to reporters at 10:50 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.