Trump blames GOP leaders for debt ceiling ‘mess’

President Trump said Thursday he asked GOP leaders in Congress to tie legislation raising the debt ceiling to a Veterans Affairs bill and that their failure has led to a political mess surrounding the issues.

Trump targeted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in the tweet.

“I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval,” Trump 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!”

Congress faces an Sept. 30 deadline to raise the debt ceiling. Failure to do so would prevent the U.S. from being able to make all of its payments and could affect the nation’s bond rating. 

The veterans legislation referred to by Trump is a measure he signed into law on Wednesday that accelerates the appeals process for disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Reports emerged in mid-July of discussions about tying the debt ceiling bill to the veterans legislation, though it was not clear that the president had made the suggestion.

At the time, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said such a connection made sense.

“You know how this place works: You always stick something people love onto something people hate,” Roe said, according to Dow Jones. “Obviously something that has to be done — that’s what we always do to get the debt ceiling” raised, he said.

The veterans bill is meant to help veterans challenge rejected bids for benefits and mitigate a backlog of appeals. The House approved the bill in July and the Senate approved it in August.

McConnell said earlier this month that lawmakers and the president would not let the U.S. default on its debt this fall.

“There is zero chance — no chance — we won’t raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell said during a Louisville, Ky., event with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin has pressed for a “clean” hike to the debt ceiling, but many conservatives want to include spending restrictions opposed by Democrats. 

A debt ceiling bill cannot get through the Senate without the support of at least eight Democrats, giving the minority party leverage in the talks.

Congress must also approve a measure to fund the government by the end of September, raising the odds of the two measures being tied together.

Tags Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Steven Mnuchin

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