Quad Citians call on Congress to raise debt ceiling

Dozens rallied in Davenport Monday night, calling on Congress to raise the debt ceiling and avoid a default on government payments. Arsenal workers, retirees and veterans were among the groups worried by Thursday’s deadline.

“They’ve earned every damn dime!” said speaker Mike Malmstrom of the Homeless Veterans Outreach Center.

A veteran himself, Malmstrom said disability payments and education credits through the G.I. Bill could be put in jeopardy by a U.S. default.

“What really upsets me the most is that there are a small percentage of people who during peacetime and war, fought and defended this country…. to take away from them or their families because individuals on the Hill can’t get their heads out of their butts,” said Malmstrom.

World War II veteran William Thomas and his wife Lois, a retired nurse, are worried their social security payments will be affected.

“Without it, we have nothing,” said Lois.

“It could also affect me if they cut out services for the hospitals and medical doctors that serve veterans. I hope not,” said William.

Many workers on the Rock Island Arsenal have already dealt with six furlough days this year. Now, they fear more could be coming.

“We still haven’t been paid for those days, and I doubt if we will,” said the vice president of AFGE 2119.

If Congress fails to raise the cap, the Treasury will only be able to pay roughly two-thirds of its bills over the next month. Quad Citians say the uncertainty over which bills will be paid troubles them the most.

“My bills keep coming. Just because I’m retired, it doesn’t mean I don’t have bills. I have just as many bills as anybody else does,” said Jerry Porter.

Monday, each group also said they want a long-term solution, not one that pushes the problem further down the road.

“It’s time for Congress to lead, follow or get out of the way,” said Tom Seymour.

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