Expert: GOP's latest ploy undermines 'military readiness' and poses 'significant national security consequences'
Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

A former Pentagon and CIA official warned of "significant national security consequences" if Senate Republicans force a default on the national debt.

The U.S. Senate must agree to lift the debt ceiling to avoid defaulting, which MSNBC's Jeremy Bash, a former chief of staff at both the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency, said the consequences could be catastrophic.

"There are significant national security consequences to a debt default," Bash said. "First, it's unclear whether we would be able to even pay our troops. The reason we have an all-volunteer force of 2.1 million individuals serving in uniform is because they know that when they step out there to fight and win our nation's wars we're going to pay them, pay them well, take care of their families, provide housing. It's unclear if we default if we'd ever be able to do that."

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell has refused to let Democrats vote on a long-term increase for the debt limit with the threat of a default looming on Oct. 18, which Bash said presented fundamental threats to military readiness.

"Second, we have to pay contractors to maintain our bases," Bash said. "This is Military Readiness 101. If we don't do that we're not going to have a ready, capable military, and, third, our standing in the world is at stake. If the full faith and credit of the United States is pierced, if it is shattered, because we can't function our democracy, then that's going to send a very clear signal to both our friends and our adversaries that the United States is on our back, and I don't know why, I don't yo why anybody in Washington would do that, and for that reason vice president [Dick] Cheney and [defense] secretary Leon Panetta, William Cohen, Bill Perry, Ash Carter, secretary Chuck Hagel and Jim Mattis signed an urgent letter to the congressional leaders to take urgent action now to avoid those catastrophic consequences."

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