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White House press secretary Jen Psaki picked up where President Joe Biden left off Monday in hammering Senate Republicans for blocking Democratic efforts to raise the debt ceiling before the October 18 deadline.
‘This is a period of time where we could easily solve this in the next two days, and easily do that through allowing Democrats to be the adults in the room, despite the fact that Republicans spent like drunken sailors for the last four years before President Biden took office,’ Psaki said at the afternoon press briefing.
Earlier, Biden lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and his caucus, saying their actions were ‘hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful,’ because they’ve objected when Democrats have tried to pass a debt ceiling bill.
Republicans are trying to force Democrats into using reconciliation – which bypasses the Senate filibuster – to bump up the debt ceiling, while the White House is demanding that the GOP simply not filibuster the already-passed House debt ceiling bill.
‘What is happening in the Senate right now is Senate Democrats have proposed that they would, they would do all the votes to raise the debt limit. They are happy to be the adults in the room,’ Psaki said. ‘They are not even asking Republicans to vote for it at this point. We know they’re unwilling to be the adults in the room.’
White House press secretary Jen Psaki blasted Republicans for spending ‘like drunken sailors’ under former President Donald Trump, and then tripping up Democratic efforts to increase the debt ceiling
At Monday’s briefing, Psaki stood alongside a chart that showed how much the debt had grown under Trump and how much it’s increased in the first nine months of the Biden administration
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell sent a letter to President Joe Biden Monday maintaining that Republicans wouldn’t help Democrats raise the debt ceiling
But Republicans look unlikely to budge.
Asked why the White House wouldn’t just push Democrats to use reconciliation to get the bill done, Psaki replied: ‘Why let McConnell off the hook, or Republicans off the hook?’ she asked reporters in the room. ‘I mean, it is their debt.’
She brought along a visual – a chart entitled ‘Debt Increase During Presidency’ – to provide context at the briefing.
‘The moment we’re in, as the president talked about earlier today, is despite the fact that under the last administration nearly 8 trillion in bills was compiled – I have a little chart here just to give you a little visual – almost $8 trillion during the Trump administration, $676 billion during the Biden administration,’ Psaki noted.
‘So what Sen. McConnell is refusing to do is pay the debts of what were rung up under his leadership when he was in the Senate – still continues to be, of course – and when Trump was president,’ she continued.
She pointed out that the ‘debt limit is about paying the bills we have already spent.’
‘It is not about initiatives that we are talking about and debating now,’ Psaki said.
Earlier, a frustrated Biden spoke in the State Dining Room and accused the Republicans of playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with the American economy.
He told reporters he couldn’t guarantee the U.S. wouldn’t default.
‘No I can’t. That’s up to Mitch McConnell,’ Biden answered.
President Joe Biden hammered Republicans for refusing to raise the debt ceiling in Monday morning remarks from the White House.
President Joe Biden (right) and First Lady Jill Biden (left) arrive back at the White House Monday morning after spending the weekend in Wilmington, Delaware
Biden said he would speak to reporters later, as he’s slated to speak at 11:15 a.m. about the debt ceiling
The Bidens walked hand-in-hand across the South Lawn Monday morning as they arrived back from Wilmington, Delaware
‘They won’t raise it,’ Biden complained. ‘Even though defaulting on the debt would lead to [a] self-inflicted wound that takes our economy over a cliff and risks jobs and retirement savings, social security benefits, salaries for servicemembers, benefits for veterans and so much more.’
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to colleagues Monday morning telling them, ‘we must get a bill to the president’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week. Period.’
Schumer didn’t say what process he would use to pass such a bill.
McConnell reiterated that he wouldn’t play ball in a Monday morning letter to Biden.
‘Republicans will not build Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer a shortcut around procedural hurdles they can clear on their own so they have a more convenient path to jam us with a partisan taxing and spending spree,’ McConnell said.
Biden told reporters he had read the letter right before his speech.
‘I plan to talk to Mitch about it,’ Biden said.
During the briefing, Psaki said the call hadn’t happened yet.
‘I think what the president was conveying is that he’s, of course, open to speaking to Sen. McConnell. That’s the role of – or should be – the role of any president to work to address what could be an economic catastrophe for the American public,’ she said.
‘They have not talked yet. I don’t know when it will be scheduled. But what is clear, is this is not a negotiation,’ she added. ‘We know what needs to happen here.’
McConnell blocked several Democratic attempts of using unanimous consent to lift the debt ceiling last week.
Now, Biden feared Republicans would filibuster it – meaning 60 votes would be needed to procede.
‘So let’s be clear, not only are Republicans refusing to do their job, they’re threatening to use their power to prevent us from doing our job,’ Biden said.
He urged Republicans not to filibuster the bill, so it could pass using only the 50 Democratic votes.
Otherwise Democrats will have to push a debt ceiling bill through using the process of reconciliation – where they can bypass Republicans, but Biden warned was fraught with ‘all kinds of potential danger for miscalculation.’
‘It’s an incredibly complicated, cumbersome process when there’s a very simple process out there,’ Biden said, pointing out that the Senate could merely pass the House bill.
Meanwhile Psaki described getting the Senate to pass the House bill as the ‘fastest, the simplest, the cleanest, the least risky way to get this done.’
‘Everything else would come to a standstill,’ Biden also warned.
But that’s the point, as McConnell is holding the debt ceiling hostage to protest the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill Biden that progressive Democrats want to see passed.
‘Bipartisanship is not a light switch that Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer may flip on to borrow money and flip off to spend it. Republicans’ position is simple. We have no list of demands. For two and a half months, we have simply warned that since your party wishes to govern alone, it must handle the debt limit alone as well,’ McConnell said in the letter.
Democrats plan to pass the $3.5 trillion bill using reconciliation – which means they can cut out Republicans entirely.
However, the Democrats aren’t all on the same page about the bill.
That bill contains a number of liberal goodies including climate change provisions, universal pre-K, child care assistance, tuition-free community college, paid medical and family leave, the extension of the child tax credit and enhanced Medicare coverage.
Moderate Democrats including Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have complained that the pricetag is too high.
Biden complained about them to reporters Monday.
‘I need 50 votes in the Senate, I have 48,’ he said. ‘I’ve been able to close the deal with 99 per cent of my party. Two, two people, that’s still underway.’
Progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders conceded on Sunday that the $3.5 trillion price will likely have to go down.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told colleagues in a Monday morning email, ‘We must get a bill to the president’s desk dealing with the debt limit by the end of the week. Period’
‘The $3.5 trillion should be a minimum, but I accept that there’s gonna have to be give and take,’ the progressive from Vermont said on ABC’s This Week.
On Thursday, a planned House vote on the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill was called off, with progressives threatening to tank the bill if moderate Democrats wouldn’t get on board the larger spending package.
On Friday, Biden met with Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Sanders wouldn’t confirm that the number Biden floated to lawmakers during his Friday meeting on Capitol Hill was $2 trillion.
‘Well, first of all, I’m not sure that that’s accurate, as you know there’s a lot of gossip that goes on,’ Sanders said.
Schumer cited what Biden had told lawmakers in his Monday morning note.
‘He encouraged them to stick together, compromise, and find the sweet spot that will allow us to complete our work,’ Schumer said of the president’s message. ‘I agree with his sentiment whole-heartedly – we can get this done, together, if we put aside our differences and find the common ground within our party.’
‘It will require sacrifice. Not every member will get everything he or she wanted. But at the end of the day, we will pass legislation that will dramatically improve the lives of the American people,’ Schumer said.