Debt ceiling protests call for South Dakota delegation to take action

Local protesters are calling on South Dakota's congressional delegation to pass a debt ceiling increase before a default.
Published: May. 23, 2023 at 6:14 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Debt ceiling negotiations have been raging on in Washington, D.C., but it’s also drawing attention from groups in South Dakota.

Individuals with the group Common Grounds Indivisible SD protested in front of the Sioux Falls offices of Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.) Tuesday. Along with Rounds and Johnson, the group called for South Dakota’s delegation to Washington, including Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), to put more pressure on congressional leaders to pass a measure raising the debt ceiling before June 1.

“It’s very frustrating. It seems like it should be common sense, nothing to argue about. Do a clean bill, raise the debt ceiling, and then negotiate the budget,” Common Grounds Indivisible SD spokesperson Sheryl Johnson said.

The organization said it’s unacceptable for Congress to not pay its bills for spending it’s already approved, and said negotiations have come up too close to when the United States will run out of money.

“As citizens, we pay our bills when we have debts, and we expect Congress to pay theirs to. These are bills that they have already passed, they’ve run up the debt, and now it’s time to pay them. We’re just upset that they’re dilly dallying around with it.” Sheryl Johnson said.

Common Grounds Indivisible SD Co-Lead Julia Natvig said the threat of a default is especially concerning for older individuals, as social security and investment incomes would be the most affected.

“Most of my income, besides social security, comes from my investments. My IRA, my 401k, I have a small pension. Those could be just devastated if our stock market crashes.” Natvig said.

Some of the state’s delegation though responded that the claims of inaction are untrue. Rep. Johnson said House Republics did pass a bill back in April that included a debt ceiling increase of around $1.5 trillion. The bill does include many spending cuts and limits on future spending from the federal government. Rep. Johnson said the bill is meant to curtail excess spending from Congressional Democrats and the White House. That bill has currently not been picked up by the Senate for consideration.

“We are hitting an inflection point where things get much worse, and it is time for the responsible adults to address this problem.” Rep. Johnson said.

Rep. Johnson said claims from Tuesday’s protest like House Republicans were looking to cut spending to Veterans Affairs are not true.

“The reality is House Republicans have already passed a debt ceiling increase. We passed it out of the House. They say that Republican plans would cut 22 percent from the V.A., we know that’s not true. Just last week, the House Republicans passed an appropriations bill out of committee that would put an extra 16 billion dollars into the V.A.” Rep. Johnson said.

Rep. Johnson said major budget items like the Inflation Reduction Act are what’s accelerated spending in the country, and something that Republicans are looking to rein in with negotiations over the debt ceiling. He said spending on the country’s current debt interest will only increase in the coming years, and these spending negotiations need to happen now.

" The reality is, we cannot continue to spend like this. I have voted no on the big spending packages, and I’m not going to pay for their reckless votes unless we get some real fiscal sanity back in Washington.” Rep. Johnson said.