Trump attacks Republican leaders over debt ceiling

0
80

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump lashed out Thursday at Republican leaders in Congress, suggesting efforts to increase the country’s borrowing limit to avoid an economic-rattling default on the nation’s debt are “a mess!”

On Twitter, Trump said he had asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan to attach legislation to increase the country’s borrowing limit to a bill he recently signed related to veterans. Trump said they didn’t do it and “now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up.”

Raising the federal borrowing limit is a must-do item for Congress when they return to Washington from summer break. Congress faces an October deadline to increase the government’s borrowing authority and avoid defaulting on U.S. obligations.

Adding to the complexity, Congress needs to pass stopgap legislation to avert a government shutdown when the budget year ends Sept. 30.

Speaking at an event with Boeing employees in suburban Seattle Thursday, Ryan insisted Congress would “pass legislation to make sure that we pay our debts.” He added, “I’m not worried that’s not going to get done because it’s going to get done.”

Ryan also said he and Trump are in “constant contact” to work on a policy agenda, adding “for me it’s really important the president succeeds, because if he succeeds then the country succeeds.”

Later, in an interview with CNBC, Ryan said he didn’t view Trump’s tweets as “going after me.” He also said the idea of tying debt ceiling legislation to the veterans bill had been considered, but that they still have more options.

McConnell, at an event in Louisville, Ky., on Thursday, did not respond to questions about Trump’s comments. During an appearance earlier this week with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, McConnell said “there is zero chance, no chance, we won’t raise the debt ceiling.”

The federal government has never before defaulted on debt payments. Financial experts have warned that default on U.S. bond payments could roil financial markets.

Trump’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexican border could complicate efforts to keep government running. Trump threatened Tuesday to force a federal shutdown unless Congress provides funds for the project.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway stressed on Thursday the president was serious about moving forward with the wall.

Speaking on “Fox and Friends,” Conway says Trump is “going to stick to building that wall and he wants the money to pay for it.” She adds: “anybody who is surprised by that has not been paying attention for two years.”

Trump again attacked McConnell on Twitter later Thursday morning over failed efforts to advance health-care legislation. Said Trump: “The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed! That should NEVER have happened!”

The latest tweets from the president came a day after Trump and McConnell pledged to work together, amid reports of tension.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that the two “remain united on many shared priorities,” and they and other top officials will hold “previously scheduled meetings” after Congress returns from its August recess.

McConnell said that they have “a lot of work ahead of us, and we are committed to advancing our shared agenda together, and anyone who suggests otherwise is clearly not part of the conversation.”