Durbin: Accept responsibility, raise debt limit

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Sunday that lawmakers who have voted for programs that require funding need to "accept responsibility" for those votes and raise the debt ceiling.

Durbin, speaking on CBS' "Face the Nation," reminded his fellow Congressional members that "what we are voting for in a debt ceiling is to borrow the money to pay for what we have already spent.

"So those who have voted time and again for us to go to war, or stay at war, or stay longer at war have to pay the bills for the men and women in uniform to keep them safe," he told CBS' Bob Schieffer. "What we need to do is accept responsibility."

The Obama administration and many economists, including Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, have warned of economic catastrophe if the United States does not raise the amount it is legally allowed to borrow - now $14.3 trillion - by August 2. But lawmakers remain far apart on a deal.

Still, Durbin, who for weeks worked with a "Group of Six" bipartisan lawmakers in efforts to negotiate a debt limit deal, emphasized that top lawmakers of both parties were committed to preventing the U.S. government from defaulting on its debt.

"When the doors close and the cameras are off, every leader sitting down with the president said we cannot default on America's debt," Durbin said. "If we call into question the full faith and credit of the United States for the first time in our history, interest rates will go up and this recession will get worse. We will lose jobs and businesses will fail."

Durbin acknowledged, however, that not all lawmakers were willing to embrace a deal publicly - particularly as supporting an increase to the debt limit could be politically damaging to some conservative Republicans who had pledged to vote against it without certain conditions.

"When you open the room, people, you know, make all kind of statements before the cameras," Durbin said. "But I tell you this: The bottom line is we can do it... There are some hard choices here. But let us not default on America's debt for the first time in history and cause this economy to go further downhill."

He argued that President Obama had "done his job" in guiding the talks, and that now it was up to Congress to cut a deal that would prevent further economic decline in America.

"The president doesn't need to spell it out," Durbin said, of the plan. "We need to have the political will to do it."