WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took aim Thursday at his party’s legislative leaders, saying they face “a mess” in the upcoming process to raise the federal debt limit because they didn’t listen to him.
It was his latest public broadside of fellow Republicans whose votes he needs this fall for border wall funding and other items on his legislative checklist.
“I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval,” the president tweeted. “They didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy — now a mess!”
Despite the criticism, both Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Congress will raise the debt ceiling so the government can pay its bills.
On Thursday, Ryan told CNBC: “We will pass the increase before we hit the debt limit.”
Earlier this week, on Monday, McConnell said, “There is zero chance — no chance — we won’t raise the debt ceiling.”
The federal government will run out of money to pay its bills Sept. 29 unless Congress raises the debt limit, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told House and Senate leaders in a July 28 letter. Mnuchin said it is “critical” that Congress act by that deadline.
Congress sets the limit, which is the amount the Treasury Department can borrow for everything from salaries to Medicare benefits to the interest on the national debt.
Two days later, on Oct. 1, the federal government will begin to shut down unless Congress can agree on a spending bill to fund its operations.
Trump is seeking $1.6 billion in the next fiscal year budget for new and replacement portions of the southern border wall that he as a candidate promised would be funded by Mexico. At a combative campaign rally Tuesday in Phoenix, he said he was willing to see government shut down if lawmakers deny that request.
“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he vowed to his base.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders downplayed friction between Trump and Republican lawmakers — which escalated as many in his party condemned his statements that both white supremacists and the counterprotesters were responsible for the deadly violence Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“I think the relationships are fine,” she said. “Certainly, there are going to be some policy differences, but there are also a lot of shared goals and that’s what we’re focused on.”
The New York Times reported that Trump called McConnell to blast him over congressional investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Sanders dodged several questions on why Trump is threatening fiscal crisis over wall funding, saying that he is “committed to making sure this gets done” because such a barrier has worked in stemming drug trafficking and illegal immigration.
Sanders separately rejected Sen. Bob Corker’s statement, in which the Tennessee Republican said Trump’s handling of the racially charged Charlottesville unrest indicates he doesn’t have the stability or competence to be president.
“That’s a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn’t dignify a response from this podium,” the press secretary said.