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Biden: Republicans playing ‘Russian roulette’ with US economy over debt ceiling – live

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LIVE – Updated at 22:15

© Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP Joe Biden speaks during a meeting with business leaders about the debt limit on the White House campus in Washington.

Richard Blumenthal also called on Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress after Frances Haugen’s hard-hitting testimony on Tuesday.

 

A reporter asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki for some clarification on the comments that Joe Biden made last night on changing the rules of filibuster as a way to bypass the Republicans and raise the debt limit. “It’s a real possibility,” he said, after a summer of opposing ending the filibuster.

“The president was just simply conveying that there are a range of offers that leaders on the hill are discussing,” Psaki said.

Biden’s about-face on the filibuster was a bit of a bluff, seeing as the Democrats. would require a majority in the Senate to change any of the rules of the filibuster. Centrists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have always opposed filibuster reform, and Manchin said today that his stance has not changed.

But some believe the bluff was enough to make minority leader Mitch McConnell blink and offer up his short-term, fixed-amount proposal to the debt limit.

 

With senators still meeting on Capitol Hill and White House press secretary Jen Psaki fielding questions at the press briefing, there seem to be a variety of different answers coming out regarding what the Democrats are going to do about Mitch McConnell and his short-term, fixed-amount raise to the debt limit proposal.

White House on debt limit: “We could get this done today”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki took to the podium at today’s press briefing to address the proposal floated by senate minority leader Mitch McConnell earlier regarding the debt limit.

“The scant details that have been reported present even more complicated, more difficult options than the one that is quite obvious in the president’s view and is in front of the faces of every member of the Hill,” Psaki said.

“We could get this done today. We don’t need to kick the can. We don’t need to go through a cumbersome process that every day brings additional risks.”

To recap: the US is barreling toward economic catastrophe with an 18 October deadline approaching on the federal debt limit. Democrats have twice attempted to raise the debt limit but both times, Republicans have blocked their efforts, using the filibuster to prevent Democrats from bypassing their objections with a mere majority vote.

Republicans wanted Democrats to go forward on raising the debt limit through a very complicated and lengthy budget reconciliation process. Democrats did not want this, in part because they want Republicans to take responsibility for the $8tn in debt that they incurred under the Trump administration, but also because Congress can only use budget reconciliation three times a year. The Biden administration obviously has some loaded legislation (the reconciliation “human infrastructure” bill and the voting rights For the People Act) before them that they need to save this for – they already had gone through budget reconciliation once before for the Covid bill.

It was from here that the Democrats began talking about the filibuster and looking at changing filibuster rules to bypass the Republicans and raise the debt limit. Within hours, McConnell offered an alternative to a promised “expedited” budget reconciliation process: a short-term, fixed-amount raise to the debt limit to December.

Democrats are still in meetings to about this proposal. “My understanding is that there has been no formal offer made,” Psaki said. “A press release is not a formal offer.”

 

Senator Bernie Sanders is sounding off on the Mitch McConnell proposals:

 

Here we go.

 

Reuters is now reporting that Republicans leaving the Senate are saying that today’s vote to suspend the debt limit has now been postponed. More to come.

 

We have more reaction coming in to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and his proposal for a short-term, fixed-amount raise of the debt limit to December, or an expedited budget reconciliation.

 

19:56 Maya Yang

Donald Trump’s former press secretary Stephanie Grisham did not vote for him in the 2020 election, she has revealed.

Grisham, who also worked as the White House’s east wing communications director and chief of staff to Melania Trump, said that she wished there was a different Republican candidate to vote for in last year’s elections.

“Did you vote for Donald Trump in 2020?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked her yesterday. “I did not,” Grisham said, adding that she filled in a different candidate but declined to reveal the person’s identity.

© Provided by The Guardian That was then. In this file photo White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham listens as US President Donald Trump speaks to the media aboard Air Force One in 2019. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Grisham, who this released I’ll Take Your Questions Now, a widely-trailed book about White House gossip and scandal during the chaotic Trump administration, has also warned of a potential re-run by the former president in 2024.

“He’s on his revenge tour, for people who dared to vote for impeachment,” she told ABC’s Good Morning America on Monday. “And I want to just warn people that once he takes office if he were to win, he doesn’t have to worry about re-election any more. He will be about revenge, he will probably have some pretty draconian policies.”

Grisham’s recent media appearances have received widespread attention, including criticism, particularly towards her prior favorable position towards the Trump administration.

Don Winslow, an American author and political activist, tweeted on Wednesday, “Stephanie Grisham loved working with Donald Trump. She was honored to do so,” referring to a previous tweet made by Grisham on January 6, the day of the insurrection at the US Capitol by extremist Trump supporters, at the urging of the outgoing president, in which she praised the administration.

“Why are the press allowing her to rewrite history?”, Winslow added.

Wajahat Ali, a Daily Beast columnist, also condemned Grisham, tweeting: “So we have rehabilitated Stephanie Grisham who was part and parcel of Trump’s grift and attack on democracy and did nothing to stop it and is now profiting off it? Good good. They all fall up in DC.”

 

Senator Mazie Hirono had strong words for minority leader Mitch McConnell and his new offer for a short-term raise on the debt limit:

McConnell to offer short-term raise on debt limit

As we head into the Senate cloture vote to raise the debt limit – yes, the one Republicans have said repeatedly they plan to block yet again with a filibuster – minority leader Mitch McConnell is still refusing to budge on that.

But now he is offering a short-term raise in the debt ceiling to put off defaulting by a few months – it’s this short-term extension, or his old stance of raising the debt limit through budget reconciliation.

“We have already made it clear we would assist in expediting the 304 reconciliation process for standalone debt limit legislation,” McConnell said. “To protect the American people from a near-term Democrat-created crisis, we will also allow Democrats to use normal procedures to pass an emergency debt limit extension at a fixed dollar amount to cover current spending levels into December. This will moot Democrats’ excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation.”

Reminder that both Joe Biden and majority leader Chuck Schumer are against going the reconciliation route, not just because they want Republicans to take responsibility for the $8tn in debt that they incurred under the Trump administration, but because the process is complicated and lengthy and there’s a chance that it won’t finish before the 18 October deadline.

It appears though that should Democrats go the budget reconciliation route, McConnell is promising an expedited path.

Interim summary

It’s been a lively morning with reactions on the Facebook whistleblower testimony and lawmakers in a stew on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling. There’s a lot more to come in the next few hours, so stay tuned.

Main events so far:

  • Joe Biden is meeting with top US bank and business leaders right now, virtually from the White House, about the federal debt limit, with specific plans to shame Republicans for their “obstruction and political games” in using the filibuster to block the Democrats and their efforts to raise the debt limit. He accused the GOP of playing “Russian routlette” with the US economy.
  • Democratic Senator Chris Coons has told reporters that “there very well may be” 50 votes in the Senate to change the filibuster rules to bypass the Republicans and allow the Democrats move forward and raise the debt limit. But that’s not what WV’s Joe Manchin is signaling…
  • Senate commerce sub-committee’s Democratic chair Richard Blumenthal called for more whistleblowers to come forward with more documents exposing Facebook’s alleged profits-over-safety policies, like the ones Frances Haugen provided and spoke about to Congress yesterday. He also called for Mark Zuckerberg to testify once again on Capitol Hill.

Biden calls out Republicans on debt limit

Joe Biden is meeting with top US bank and business leaders today about the debt limit, with specific plans to shame Republicans for their “obstruction and political games” in using the filibuster to block the Democrats and their efforts to raise the debt limit.

Once again, he highlighted the danger of the US defaulting on its debts, which it will if Congress does not raise the debt limit for the first time in history by the 18 October deadline.

“Defaulting on the debt, which (treasury secretary Janet Yellen) said could happen on any day after October the 18th, means that social security benefits will stop,” Biden said. “Salaries to service members will stop. Benefits to veterans will stop, and much more. A failure to raise the debt limit will undermine the safety of the United States’ treasury securities, threaten reserve status of the dollar as a world currency that the world relies on, downgrade America’s credit rating and result in a rise in interest rates for families talking about mortgages, auto loans, credit cards.”

He pointed out, once again, that Congress raised the debt limit three times under Donald Trump. During Trump’s presidency, Republicans added almost $8tn to the country’s debt, Biden said.

“My Republican friends need to stop playing Russian roulette with the US economy,” Biden said. “If they don’t want to do the job, just get out of the way.”

The president is joined by treasury secretary Janet Yellen and commerce secretary Gina Raimondo as he meets with the heads of Citi, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Intel, Deloitte LLP, Nasdaq, Raytheon Technologies, the National Association of REALTORS and the AARP.

 

Let’s talk the $1.2tn infrastructure bill and the reconciliation bill.

The Biden administration has their top people this week traveling around the country and speaking virtually about these two packages, stumping hard about how investing in both “human infrastructure” and actual infrastructure will lead to economic growth and competitiveness in the job market.

  • Vice president Kamala Harris is traveling to New Jersey on Friday.
  • Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm is hosting an Instagram Live conversation with young Latino leaders.
  • Education secretary Miguel Cardona is traveling to the Rio Grande Valley.
  • HUD secretary Marcia Fudge is touring a revitalized community in Michigan.
  • Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg is speaking virtually in Chicago.

Meanwhile, in Washington, negotiations continue within the Democratic caucus on the size of the reconciliation package. Progressives were happy with the bill as it was when it was $3.5tn, but Republicans and centrists Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema were horrified.

Joe Biden has proposed drastically scaling plans down to around $1.9tn to $2.2tn, while representative Pramila Jayapal, leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, has countered with $2.5tn to $2.9tn.

 

So now that the Democrats don’t have the 50 votes needed to make a change to the filibuster rules ahead of the debt ceiling vote today, they could always appeal to the Republicans…by not calling it a filibuster, or a change to filibuster rules with the debt ceiling, etc.

However, that route doesn’t look promising either, according to Republican senator Josh Hawley:

So what now?

 

*Record scratch sound effect* Hold up. Senator Chris Coons just told reporters that “there very well may be” the 50 votes needed in the Senate to change the filibuster rules, bypass the Republicans and allow the Democrats to move forward and raise the debt limit.

That would have required centrist Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, longtime holdouts on the filibuster, to get in line with their party and vote for reform.

And yet:

Coons: ‘There very well may be’ 50 votes to change filibuster rules

Senator Chris Coons has told reporters that “there very well may be” 50 votes in the Senate to change the filibuster rules to bypass the Republicans and allow the Democrats move forward and raise the debt limit.

Reminder: Centrist Democrat senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have always been the holdouts on the filibuster, while many other Democrats have either called for an end to the practice or to reform it.

It appears something is in the works, with Joe Biden changing course on his stance on the filibuster as well last night.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the Senate will do away with the filibuster all together. They could vote to carve out a filibuster exception for the debt limit, for example. Either way, for those pushing for filibuster reform, this is a promising development at a point in time when Democrats may just have been pushed far enough to act.

 

The Senate vote on the debt limit won’t be for a few hours, but minority leader Mitch McConnell is already setting an ominous tone:

 

An option in this whole debt limit debacle is for Democrats to tackle the filibuster once again.

A filibuster is a procedural tactic that allows a minority of senators to block a vote. It takes 60 votes to break a filibuster, and in a Senate with as narrow margins as this one, that’s not going to happen unless Republican senators vote against their party.

Republicans have used the filibuster to block voting rights legislation, gun control measure as well as the formation of a bipartisan commission investigating the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.

Many Democrats have been outspoken on how they believe that the filibuster is now causing more harm than good.

Over the summer, however, during the fight for the For the People Act to expand voting rights, Joe Biden was against ending the filibuster. He always stopped short of calling to abolish the tactic that stymied so much of his agenda, despite advocates and community leaders pleading with him to do so.

Last night outside the White House, it appeared he may have changed his tune. In an off-the-cuff remark to reporters, he said, “It’s a real possibility” that Democrats are considering a change to the filibuster rules.

This could mean a number of things. Some lawmakers would be in favor, perhaps, of allowing some wiggle room to bypass the filibuster in certain cases but not abolishing the rule altogether, which many Democrats are for. Others are looking to revert rules back to the way they used to be and require senators to actually hold the floor and physically stand at the podium.

That means little, however. Democrats would need a majority vote in the Senate to end the filibuster and centrist Democrats senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have both said they’re against it. Neither of their offices have made any comment as of late if that has changed in light of the debt limit.

 

The Senate will vote today on raising the limit on the debt ceiling, which Congress must do before 18 October in order to avoid economic catastrophe (no hyperbole).

Republicans have already twice used the filibuster to block efforts by the Democrats to raise the debt limit and are expected to do so once again today.

To recap: Republicans believe the Democrats and the Democrats alone should raise the debt limit. Which usually would be all fine and dandy because all that requires is a simple majority and Democrats currently have the majority of 51 votes in the Senate.

But if Republicans use the filibuster, Democrats would need 60 votes to pass the measure. Now when Republicans say they want Democrats to raise the debt limit “on their own”, they mean through budget reconciliation, a very complicated and lenghty process that neither Joe Biden nor senate majority leader Chuck Schumer are very keen on undertaking.

One big reason why the Democrats are so against pursuing budget reconciliation is that they feel that the Republicans need to take responsibility here. Beyond the fact that they’re clearly behaving in a manner that would sow the most chaos under a Democrat president with a Democrat-majority Congress, White House press secretary Jen Psaki pointed out earlier this week that Republicans incurred almost $8tn in the four years under Donald Trump – more than a quarter of the entire debt now outstanding.

“This is their debt that they chalked up themselves,” Psaki said. “This is a period of time where we could easily solve this in the next two days, and easily do that through allowing Democrats to be the adults in the room, despite the fact that Republicans spent like drunken sailors over the last four years before President Biden took office.”

Bipartisan anger over the Facebook whistleblower testimony

Greetings, live blog readers.

Yesterday, Frances Haugen, a 37-year-old former Facebook employee, testified before the Senate about how the social media giant harms children, is destabilizing democracies and is putting “astronomical profits before people”.

While many have been critical about the role of tech companies in our democracy before, Haugen’s testimony appears to have inspired a rare bipartisan consensus on the need for new regulations.

Senator Richard Blumenthal went on CNN today to call for more whistleblowers to come forward with more documents like the ones Haugen provided. He also called for Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress.

“I think they’re beginning to realize they have a big tobacco moment on their hands,” Blumenthal said, of Facebook. “I was involved and helped lead the states in suing the big tobacco companies and I remember well that lightbulb moment, a jaw-dropping time when we discovered all of the files of the big tobacco companies and how they knew of the harm they were causing, the toxic products and the denial was suddenly dispelled.

“I think Facebook faces the same moment of reckoning and a moment of truth.”

Read more here:

Related: Facebook whistleblower’s testimony could finally spark action in Congress