Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned President Biden Friday that Republicans will not vote to raise the federal debt ceiling in December after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a rant on the Senate floor Thursday that McConnell called “so partisan, angry, and corrosive that even Democratic Senators were visibly embarrassed by him and for him.”
After 11 Senate Republicans joined all 50 Democrats to end debate on a short-term increase to the nation’s borrowing limit, Schumer (D-NY) rose and accused the GOP of having “played a dangerous and risky partisan game.
“I am glad that their brinksmanship did not work,” said Schumer, who added that “despite immense opposition from Leader McConnell and members of his conference, our [Democratic] caucus held together, and we have pulled our country back from the cliff’s edge that Republicans tried to push us over.”
“This tantrum encapsulated and escalated a pattern of angry incompetence from Senator Schumer,” McConnell (R-Ky.) wrote.
Schumer’s words did not affect the vote on the actual legislation to raise the debt ceiling, which passed along party lines. But the vitriol was too much for Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who could be seen holding his head in his hands as Schumer spoke before walking out of the Senate chamber in disgust.
“I didn’t think it was appropriate at this time,” Manchin told reporters who caught up with him. “We have to de-weaponize. You can’t be playing politics. None of us can — on both sides. Civility is gone.”
Manchin wasn’t the only one offended by Schumer’s words, as McConnell wrote to Biden that the majority leader’s “childish behavior only further alienated the Republican members who helped facilitate this short-term [debt ceiling] patch. It has poisoned the well even further.”
Before offering Democrats a short-term increase to the debt ceiling earlier this week, McConnell had insisted they address the matter on their own using the reconciliation process, which requires just 51 votes in the Senate. Democrats argued that any debt ceiling increase should pass with bipartisan support and that doing otherwise would set a bad precedent.
“The Senate Democratic Leader had three months’ notice to handle one of his most basic governing duties,” McConnell wrote. “Amazingly, even this proved to be asking too much. Senator Schumer spent 11 weeks claiming he lacked the time and the leadership skills to manage a straightforward process that would take less than two weeks.
“Whether through weakness or an intentional effort to bully his own members, Senator Schumer marched the nation to the doorstep of disaster,” McConnell continued. “Embarrassingly, it got to the point where Senators on both sides were pleading for leadership to fill the void and protect our citizens. I stepped up.”
In addition to the short-term increase of approximately $480 billion that allows the federal government to make good on its financial obligations through Dec. 3, McConnell offered Schumer the option of fast-tracking the usually lengthy reconciliation process. Schumer chose the short-term increase, as top Democrats insisted they did not and would not plan to use reconciliation to raise the debt ceiling.
“I am writing to make it clear that in light of Senator Schumer’s hysterics and my grave concerns about the ways that another vast, reckless, partisan spending bill would hurt Americans and help China, I will not be a party to any future effort to mitigate the consequences of Democratic mismanagement,” McConnell concluded.
“Your lieutenants on Capitol Hill now have the time they claimed they lacked to address the debt ceiling through standalone reconciliation, and all the tools to do it. They cannot invent another crisis and ask for my help.”
Some Senate Republicans pushed back Thursday on McConnell’s decision to offer a temporary solution, arguing it provided Democrats a lifeline as Republicans looked to strong-arm members across the aisle into passing the increase along party lines.
“We screwed up. For two months, we promised our base and the American people that we would not help the Democratic Party raise the debt ceiling so they could spend $3.5 to $5 trillion through reconciliation,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday. “At the end of the day, we blinked.”
Few, if any, House GOP lawmakers are expected to support the bill when it comes to the floor of their chamber on Tuesday. While most members of Republican Senate leadership supported ending debate on the debt ceiling measure, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is among those expected to vote against it.
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