Transcript: 10 Freshmen Lawmakers Talk With Diane Sawyer

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DIANE SAWYER: What about this, Senator? Here we are on the eve and the precipice right now. I c-- all around the country, people are saying, "Enough, enough." What-- the-- a lot of people-- I just got back from Indiana, and people are saying, "We're embarrassed. We're embarrassed that we're up against a deadline doing this." Can we afford, at this moment, not to move forward? Addressing the debt issues, a lot of people are for that, but at this moment, afford not to move forward?

SENATOR MIKE LEE: There is no question that we face significant risks as a country. We face really a double-edged sword of a risk. On one side, we face the risk associated with passing August 2nd without raising the debt limit. That would bring about some pretty significant economic consequences that no one wants to face.

On the other hand, if we raise the debt limit, in order to avoid those crises that I just referred to, if we raise the debt limit without putting in place permanent, binding, structural spending reform mechanisms, the likes of which I believe you can have only through a balanced budget amendment-- then we could face a credit downgrade that could end up being just as severe as not raising it by August 2nd. There is no easy choice here. There is no easy solution. That's why many of us, myself included, and I think my colleagues from the House, as well, from the day we got here, have been talking about this. Many months elapsed and nothing was happening. No legislation had been introduced. So I-- I filed legislation called the cut, cap, and balance act in the Senate.

A few days later, my friend Jason Chaffetz filed companion legislation in the House of Representatives. The following week, the House passed that, to raise the debt limit-- but put in place some structural spending reform. Unfortunately, it stalled out in the Senate. They refused even to vote on it, to subject it to an open amendment process. That's where it broke down.

So here we are, only about 30 hours away from the deadline, and we're given a binary choice, up or down, yes or no, and that's it. Many of us, myself included, believe that this deal-- while reflecting significant compromise, doesn't fix the underling problem.

DIANE SAWYER: So all the anxiety in the country doesn't reach you, doesn't move you to say, "Let's do something?"

SENATOR MIKE LEE: Diane, all the anxiety in the world can't turn legislation that doesn't fix the underlying problem, into legislation that does fix the problem.

DIANE SAWYER: But this moment, there's a debt ceiling, and all the calls to Congress and all of the people saying-- "Give us a chance here. Give us a chance to move forward," doesn't reach you?

SENATOR MIKE LEE: It does, but so do the-- all the calls that I also get, which actually outnumber those that you just referred to, saying, "We're very concerned about what happens if we move forward with-- with an approach that doesn't solve the underlying problem." Because if you follow what the credit rating agencies have told the federal government, "Unless you bring about some pretty significant, massive change that's permanent, that's structural in nature, you're going to get downgraded. And when you get downgraded, that causes a whole host of other problems."

DIANE SAWYER: Now do you still carry your constitutions? (LAUGH) You've still got it there. And how is that sleepin' on the floor thing goin' for you? (LAUGH)

GOSAR: When you're a backpacker, this is all gravy.

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