U.S. President Donald Trump has accused congressional leaders in his Republican party of creating a political “mess” for not attaching debt ceiling legislation to a recently-signed bill that aims to assist veterans.
Trump directed his remarks at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan on Twitter.
“I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the proper V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval,” Trump wrote. “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 has until the end of September to raise the debt ceiling. Failing to do so could prevent the federal government from paying some of its bills or postpone them, a situation some economists predict could trigger an increase in interest rates, a worldwide recession or a stock market crash. A measure to keep the federal government open once appropriations run out on September 30 must also be passed.
The bill Trump cited was signed into law on Wednesday. It accelerates the process for veterans who file disability claims with the U.S. Veterans Administration.
There were reportedly discussions in Washington last month about linking the debt ceiling measure to the veterans bill, but it was not clear if the idea came from Trump.
Earlier this month, McConnell maintained that Congress and the White House would not allow the government to default on its debt.
“There is zero chance – no chance – we won’t raise the debt ceiling,” McConnell said at an event in his home state of Kentucky.
The president also lashed out on Twitter Thursday at former National Intelligence Director James Clapper, whose frequent criticisms of Trump escalated this week when he questioned Trump’s fitness for the presidency.
“James Clapper, who famously got caught lying to Congress, is now an authority on Donald Trump. Will he now show you his beautiful letter to me?,” Trump tweeted without providing details.
After a divisive speech Trump delivered at a rally Tuesday night in Phoenix, Arizona, Clapper told CNN, “I really question his ability to be – his fitness to be – in this office.”
Two congressmen accused Clapper of perjury for telling a congressional committee in 2013 the National Security Agency did not “wittingly” collect any type of data on Americans. Clapper tendered his resignation in November 2016. It became effective at the end of President Barack Obama’s term on January 20, 2017.
The news media again drew the wrath of Trump on Thursday, as he complained on Twitter about its coverage of three speeches he delivered this week that varied greatly in tone.
“The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back to back speeches. Well, their [sic] was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally (enthusiastic, dynamic and fun) and the American Legion – V.A. (respectful and strong. To [sic] bad the Dems [Democrats] have no one who can change tones!
During an address Monday on his long-awaited military strategy in Afghanistan, Trump struck a conciliatory tone, proclaiming the U.S. must “return to a country that is not at war with itself at home.”
The next day in Phoenix, Trump delivered a rambling 75-minute speech threatening to shut down the government if Congress does not provide funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He also attacked the media for its coverage of his response to the deadly violence at the protest in Charlottesville.
In Reno, Nevada Wednesday, Trump issued an appeal for a more unified nation, saying, “It is time to heal the wounds that divide us.”
Wednesday’s remarks were delivered to the national convention of the American Legion, a wartime veterans group. Trump said, “We are not defined by the color of our skin, the figure on our paycheck or the party of our politics.”
Instead, Trump said, “We are defined by our shared humanity, by our citizenship and this magnificent nation and by the love that fills our hearts.”