PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon Senator Ron Wyden joined KOIN 6 News in the studio on Thursday to talk about the nation’s debt ceiling and the state’s mental health issues.

The U.S. hit the debt ceiling Thursday, putting the country $31.4 trillion in debt. The Treasury Department is moving money around and holding off on payments to federal retirement plans and health funds for retired postal workers. Congress has until June 5 to raise the debt ceiling, and avoid default.

“Donald Trump said ‘nobody should be able to use the debt ceiling as a political tool for holding this country hostage.’ In this case, the real potential hostages are social security and medicare,” Wyden said. “I’m not going to let anyone play politics with social security and Medicare.”

Wyden, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, says a lot is at stake regarding the debt ceiling because it could lead to a recession. It would be the 79th time since 1960 that the nation would raise its borrowing limit — the most recent example happened in 2011.

“There are huge threatening clouds above this because it could affect mortgages and people ‘s ability to get loans,” he said.

Reaching the ceiling could also mean delays in social security checks and tax returns as well as closing national parks and furloughing non-essential government employees.

Wyden explained that the reaching debt ceiling doesn’t entail new spending.

“There’s a lot of confusion on what the debt ceiling even is,” he said. “It has nothing to do with new spending. It would be like somebody saying it’s a special occasion in Portland tonight and they go to the Ringside, for example, for their special occasion. They have a wonderful steak. They have a bottom-line baked potato, the whole thing, and then they walk out without paying the bill. That’s essentially what the ceiling is about.”

Additionally, Wyden discussed a drafted bill on mental health care, which would require Medicare and Medicaid providers to include behavioral health care information on directories. It would also offer better guidance for Medicare beneficiaries with substance abuse disorders.

“I am very hopeful we can have a big bipartisan package on mental health,” he said. “This session, we got to get tough with these insurance companies that are ripping people off.

Watch the interview in its entirety in the video above.