A top U.S. House Democrat said Tuesday congressional Republicans are hurting the country by playing "debt limit chicken."
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters on Capitol Hill inaction by what he called the "no agenda Congress" is hurting Americans who are unemployed or working in low-wage jobs, and suggestions by Republicans they will only raise the federal debt limit in return for concessions from Democrats damages the country internationally.
"But the reputation of the United States of America and around the world are suffering every time the Republicans have played this debt limit chicken -- game of chicken, which we played in August and we played again last year," he said.
The federal government's authority to borrow more money expires Friday but Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has said the government will be able to pay its bills through Feb. 28.
Hoyer said he agreed with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, "defaulting on our debt is the wrong thing" and called on Congress to pass a so-called clean debt limit extension.
"And what the Republicans get from it and what Democrats get from it and what the American people get from it is a stable America in which our debtors are confident that we're going to pay our bills," he said.
Looking ahead to the November election, Hoyer said Democrats "can win back the House."
"We're raising money at a good clip," he said. "We have outstanding candidates."