Biden accuses Republicans of playing 'Russian roulette' with debt ceiling
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President Biden ripped into Senate Republicans on Wednesday for their "dangerous and disgraceful" blockade of a debt ceiling suspension, shortly before Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a compromise deal in order to avoid the first-ever default this month.
"The Senate Republicans’ position, I find not only to be hypocritical, but dangerous and a bit disgraceful, especially as we’re crawling our way out of a pandemic that cost us 700,000 lives," Biden said during a White House meeting with leaders of some of the nation's biggest banks.
Several chief executives attended, including JPMorgan Chase's Jamie Dimon, Bank of America's Brian Moynihan, Citigroup's Jane Fraser, Raytheon's Greg Hayes and Intel's Pat Gelsinger, according to a White House official. Also invited were AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins, Nasdaq President and CEO Adena Friedman and Deloitte Global CEO Punit Renjen.
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The meeting came as the U.S. government careens toward its first-ever debt default, with Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill locked in a fierce stalemate with seemingly no plan to raise, or suspend, the debt limit before Oct. 18. The president urged GOP lawmakers to "stop playing Russian roulette" with the U.S. economy and stop filibustering a Democrat-led effort to suspend the legal debt limit until December 2022.
"If they don’t want to do the job, just get out of the way," he said. "We’ll take the heat. We’ll do it."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is forcing a vote Wednesday on a measure passed by the House to suspend the legal debt limit until December 2022, but McConnell has pledged to block the effort – marking the third time Republicans will do such a thing.
Still, McConnell laid out a separate path on Wednesday afternoon to expedite the process for addressing the debt ceiling through reconciliation – which will allow Democrats to circumvent a 60-vote filibuster – after the failed vote.
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The Kentucky Republican will also offer a short-term extension of the debt ceiling suspension until November, giving lawmakers additional time to pass a more permanent solution without the risk of default.
"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," McConnell said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear whether Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will accept McConnell's offer.
Business leaders also urged Congress to take action during the meeting, warning of economic peril if the U.S. government defaulted in October.
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"We are simply playing with fire right now and our country has suffered so greatly over the last two years," Fraser, the Citi CEO, said. "The human and the economic cost of the pandemic has been wrenching. And we don't need a catastrophe of our own making to undermine the progress that is underway. So we really urge the administration and Congress to do what's necessary to resolve the situation for the good of our economy. For the good of our country."
Fox News' Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report
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