Trump is actively working to oust McConnell as Senate Republican leader: report

Mitch McConnell Senate
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • Former President Trump has spoken with GOP senators about ousting McConnell as leader, per the WSJ.
  • According to the report, there appears to be little appetite for such a drastic move.
  • McConnell enjoys the strong support of GOP caucus members, even with Trump’s entreaties.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump has spoken recently with Republican senators and political allies about ousting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell from leadership and is gauging whether there is any interest among lawmakers for a possible challenge, according to The Wall Street Journal.

There appears to be little support for such a drastic move, according to the report, but the Trump’s actions could potentially morph into a larger issue for the party, especially as the Kentucky Republican hopes to regain the Senate majority in the 2022 midterm elections and the former president continues to float a potential 2024 bid.

While Trump and McConnell worked together to fill scores of federal court vacancies with conservative jurists, along with passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other GOP priorities, Trump’s intransigence in accepting his election loss to now-President Joe Biden and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot deeply strained the relationship between the two men.

After Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the riot, McConnell declined to find the president guilty, but sharply rebuked him on the Senate floor. Later, McConnell said he would support Trump in 2024 if he were the GOP nominee, but Trump has not forgiven the minority leader for his speech.

Trump has continued to needle McConnell in the press – he recently took the minority leader to task for backing the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure passage that passed in the Senate last month, calling the legislation “a disgrace.”

“If Mitch McConnell was smart, which we’ve seen no evidence of, he would use the debt ceiling card to negotiate a good infrastructure package,” the former president said at the time, pointing to the looming debate over the country’s overall fiscal health.

As McConnell looks to the Senate map next year, he hopes to win in states like Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania – which were all carried by President Joe Biden last fall – and a protracted fight with Trump could potentially dampen enthusiasm and hurt GOP candidates on the ground.

With the Senate evenly divided between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, there is no margin for error, especially as both parties will soon ramp up spending for congressional races as 2022 approaches.

McConnell, a prodigious fundraiser, has led the Senate Republican caucus since 2007, serving as majority leader from 2015 until 2021.

In a recent interview with the Journal, Trump did not reveal if he was searching for a lawmaker to challenge McConnell, but expressed support for new leadership and said that Senate Republicans should remove the Bluegrass State politician from the top post.

“They ought to,” the former president said. “I think he’s very bad for the Republican Party.”

However, McConnell has long possessed a strong grip over the caucus, especially on big votes like the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 bill signed into law in March that didn’t receive the support of any Republican senators.

“Naw, I’m not going to get in that fight,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville told The Journal. The first-term Alabama conservative, who defeated Democratic Sen. Doug Jones last fall, said that McConnell “is doing a good job.”

Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who is up for reelection next year, told The Journal that the odds of anyone ousting McConnell were virtually nil.

“I just don’t realistically see that happening,” he told the newspaper.

McConnell, who was first elected to the Senate in 1984, easily won reelection to a seventh term last year.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The Biden administration could sidestep McConnell’s refusal to pay off America’s bills by minting a $1 trillion platinum coin

Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell speaking
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Joe Biden.

  • The GOP is standing firm on its resolution not to help Democrats raise the debt ceiling before a crucial October deadline.
  • The Treasury Department technically has the ability to issue platinum coins of any denomination.
  • In theory, Treasury Sec. Janet Yellen could order up a $1 trillion platinum coin, mint it, and deposit it at the Federal Reserve.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A new fight over the debt ceiling is brewing on Capitol Hill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has firmly dug in on refusing GOP help to renew the US’s ability to pay off its bills, known as the debt ceiling. Instead, the Kentucky Republican said it’s up to Democrats to raise it in order to finance their social spending plans on healthcare, education, and childcare. He insists he’s not “bluffing.”

But the conundrum could have a coin-sized solution. A loophole in the law that prescribes the types of coins that can legally be minted in the US theoretically allows the Treasury Department to mint a $1 trillion platinum coin, deposit it at the Federal Reserve, and then continue paying its bills as normal.

The deal with the debt ceiling

The debt ceiling places a fixed limit on the total amount of money the Treasury Department can borrow in order to fund government activities, and Congress has to vote to either raise or suspend that limit from time to time as the federal debt grows ever larger.

The Biden administration and Democrats are pressuring Republicans to back down, ruling out raising the debt limit on their own and reminding the GOP they played a role racking up $8 trillion in new debt under the Trump administration. There’s no clear path out for lawmakers as they confront a barrage of deadlines this month, including another spending brawl that could end in a government shutdown.

Former President Barack Obama said in a 2017 interview with Crooked Media that senior officials had considered minting a coin to stave off a potentially catastrophic default.

“We were having these conversations with Jack Lew and others about what options in fact were available, because it had never happened before,” Obama said, referring to the treasury secretary at the time. “There were all kinds of wacky ideas about how potentially you could have this massive coin.”

The huge conundrum with a coin-sized solution

The debt ceiling sets up a frustrating conundrum: Congress can pass budgets that direct the government to spend a fixed amount of money across its departments and programs, and sets tax rates at particular levels to fund some of it. The gap between Congressionally mandated spending and Congressionally mandated revenues then needs to be paid for by borrowing money.

But, the debt limit requires yet another act of Congress to authorize the Treasury Department to actually borrow the money needed to pay for the spending lawmakers already authorized.

This causes a problem once the department hits that debt limit, as it did at the end of July. While the Treasury Secretary has a bit of leeway to use “extraordinary measures” to keep paying the bills for a few months using cash on hand and shuffling money around, that only works for so long. It may exhaust those abilities sometime in mid-October.

Actually reaching a point where the US government is no longer able to meet its obligations would likely be a financial and economic calamity. A default on existing US debt would send financial markets into chaos, and government payments ranging from Social Security checks to military paychecks could abruptly halt. The White House is also warning about potential cuts for programs at the state and local level like Medicaid.

This isn’t the first time Congress and the president have had a showdown over the debt limit.

In the Obama era, several economists and commenters noted a potential workaround to the debt limit. The law that governs the types of coins that the Treasury Department is legally allowed to mint includes descriptions of typical coins like dimes, nickels, and quarters, as well as special commemorative and collectors’ coins, like a palladium $25 coin.

The law includes this clause: “The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.”

That clause leaves it up to the Treasury Secretary to decide on the denomination for a platinum coin, meaning in theory, Yellen could carve out the amount required and Congress could get on with more pressing business.

Of course, Treasury officials have long ruled out using the trillion-dollar platinum coin as a solution to the debt ceiling, arguing that Congress should do its job and raise the ceiling itself.

Read the original article on Business Insider

McConnell was not shocked by Trump’s 2020 loss, said there were ‘so many Maalox moments’ during his presidency: book

trump mcconnell scotus rbg state of the union
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump huddle after the State of the Union Address in Washington, DC, on February 4, 2020.

  • Mitch McConnell was not shocked by Joe Biden’s election victory over Donald Trump, per a new book.
  • “There were so many Maalox moments during the four years,” McConnell reportedly told his staff.
  • McConnell treaded carefully in communicating with Biden while Trump disputed the election results.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After Joe Biden was declared the US President-elect by most major news outlets last November, many Republicans were in disbelief that the former vice president had beaten then-President Donald Trump.

But then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who had served in the upper chamber alongside Biden for decades, was “the least surprised,” according to a new book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.

McConnell, who had been a governing partner with Trump, shepherding through three Supreme Court justices and scores of appeals judges, along with passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other conservative priorities, nonetheless had to contend with the wildly unpredictable president, who could tank a piece of legislation as easily as he could sell it to conservatives.

The senator, who at the time was closely watching the Georgia Senate runoff contests that would determine whether Republicans controlled the upper chamber or ceded control to the Democrats, chose to give Trump some space as the election results were still sinking in, which Woodward and Costa wrote in “Peril.”

Despite being in the same political party, McConnell told his staff that the president’s actions could often lead to stressful predicaments, according to the book.

“There were so many Maalox moments during the four years,” he reportedly told his staff, referring to the antacid commonly used to treat stress-induced heartburn.

During this time, McConnell continued to tread slightly with Trump – working behind to scenes to keep Biden from calling him for fear of upsetting the president, whom the then-majority leader still wanted to keep in his fold.

“McConnell worried Trump might react negatively and upend the upcoming, hotly contested runoff Senate elections in Georgia,” the book said. “He also said he did not want Biden, a serial telephone user, to call him. Any call from Biden was sure to infuriate Trump and set off unwanted calls from him, asking if he believed Biden had won the presidency.”

To keep things under wraps, McConnell reached out to GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to speak privately with Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Biden confidant, about a “back channel” for the then-majority leader to have a level of communication with the president-elect.

Cornyn said that the senators were “in a delicate situation” since Trump may have assumed that the men were “cutting a deal behind his back to cut him out,” which would make him “even more irrational.”

Around that time, McConnell publicly defended Trump’s right to contest the election results, with the president’s campaign targeting ballots in swing states that he narrowly lost – including Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

“Obviously, no states have yet certified their election results,” McConnell said at the time. “We have at least one or two states that are already on track for a recount and I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states.”

He added: “President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.”

The president and his legal team eventually filed over 40 unsuccessful election-related lawsuits in courts across the country.

After Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, McConnell declined to find the president guilty, but rebuked him on the Senate floor. Later, McConnell said he would support Trump in 2024 if he were the GOP nominee.

But there’s no love lost between the two men. Trump continues to insult McConnell on a regular basis. And the now-minority leader has his focus on regaining control of the Senate in 2022.

Read the original article on Business Insider

White House warns states of potential big cuts to Medicaid, school lunch and disaster relief programs if the US government defaults on its debt

mcconnell biden
Mitch McConnell; Joe Biden

  • The White House sent a memo to state and local governments warning of potential cuts to federal programs if Congress fails to lift debt ceiling.
  • Measures like Medicaid and free school lunches could be affected, it said.
  • The memo warned of a possible recession as Republicans show no sign of budging on raising debt ceiling.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The White House is warning state and local governments of substantial cuts to federally funded measures such as Medicaid, school lunch, and disaster relief programs if Congress fails to raise the debt ceiling.

In a new memo sent to state and local governments on Friday and obtained by Insider, the Biden administration laid out how a potential US default would ripple through at the state and local level. Programs that could face major reductions in federal aid include Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, both measures that provide free health insurance to tens of millions of low-income Americans.

It also warned of cuts to federally funded school lunch programs that provide free or reduced-cost meals to nearly 30 million children and halt money for disaster relief. That could hinder aid efforts in the wake of wildfires that scorched parts of the western US and Hurricane Ida slamming into the South.

“Hitting the debt ceiling could cause a recession,” the memo said. “Economic growth would falter, unemployment would rise, and the labor market could lose millions of jobs.”

Put simply, the debt ceiling caps how much the government can borrow. While the government raises cash through taxes, it borrows to pay off past spending. Yet in recent years, lifting the limit has become just as much a political battle as it is a housekeeping item.

President Joe Biden is urging Republicans to get on board with a debt ceiling increase, as they did three times under the Trump administration. But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Republicans won’t help Democrats raise the debt limit, arguing they’re responsible for it to cover spending from their $3.5 trillion social spending plan. He told Punchbowl News this week that he wasn’t “bluffing.”

That hasn’t impeded the Biden administration and Democrats from trying to ramp up pressure on Republicans, warning of economic calamity if the US is unable to pay off its debt. “The president wants to maintain the full faith and credit of the United States,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday. “Our view continues to be: this should be done in a bipartisan way and there should be a bipartisan path forward.”

A debt-ceiling recession would come as the US recovery is already faltering. The unemployment rate hasn’t yet reached its pre-pandemic lows, and more than 8 million Americans remain jobless. Supply-chain bottlenecks and shortages have lifted inflation to decade highs. Also, as Delta cases soar higher, banks have lowered their forecasts for economic growth. Peak rebound has come and gone, and crashing into the debt limit would reverse more than a year of recovery progress.

The “obvious solution” would be to erase the limit indefinitely, David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds, said in a Monday note. There’s little evidence the ceiling did much to slow the growth of the government’s debt pile, and battles over raising the limit shift focus away from discussions on taxes and spending programs, he added.

Each Congress has been “just a little more reckless and irresponsible than the last” with the debt limit, and the current legislative body is dangerously close to letting the country default, Kelly said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

McConnell’s final remark to Trump was ‘you lost the election’ as the defeated president railed at him for not embracing the Big Lie: book

Trump McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell listens to President Donald Trump talks to reporters while hosting Republican congressional leaders and members of Trump’s cabinet in the Oval Office at the White House July 20, 2020, in Washington, DC.

  • McConnell’s final remark to Trump was, “You lost the election,” according to a new book.
  • Trump has railed against McConnell for not embracing his lies about the 2020 presidential contest.
  • In April, Trump referred to McConnell as a “dumb son of a bitch.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

On December 15, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell congratulated President-elect Joe Biden from the Senate floor after the Electoral College solidified his victory.

President Donald Trump, who was actively vying to overturn the election results at the time, called McConnell immediately and “spewed expletives,” according to a new book, “Peril,” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

“Mr. President,” the Kentucky Republican said, “the Electoral College has spoken. That’s the way we pick a president in this country.”

Trump lambasted McConnell as disloyal and weak, the book said. The president seemingly wanted McConnell to embrace the Big Lie, or the false notion that the election was stolen from him.

McConnell’s final remark to Trump on the call was, “You lost the election, the Electoral College has spoken,” according to the book.

Woodward and Costa wrote that McConnell hoped it would “be the final time he and Trump would ever speak to each other.” Since the January 6 insurrection, it’s been reported multiple times that McConnell never wanted to speak to Trump again. The Washington Post in April reported Trump and McConnell hadn’t spoken in months.

Trump has lashed out at McConnell on a number of occasions since leaving the White House, particularly after the Republican leader criticized the former president for sparking the deadly January 6 riot at the US Capitol.

“Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” McConnell said in February, though he ultimately voted to acquit Trump after the former president was impeached in the House over the insurrection. “The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

In a subsequent statement, Trump said, “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”

During a speech in April, Trump called McConnell a “dumb son of a bitch” and a “stone cold loser.”

Trump has still not acknowledged that he fairly lost the election to Biden.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Stephen Breyer want to convince you that the Supreme Court isn’t political, but experts say ‘it’s naive to think people will’ believe them

Justice Amy Coney Barrett
US Supreme Court Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett speaks to an audience at the 30th anniversary of the University of Louisville McConnell Center in Kentucky on September 12, 2021.

  • Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Stephen Breyer have tried to defend the Supreme Court’s integrity.
  • “This court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” Barrett said at the McConnell Center this week.
  • Yet experts said they’re ignoring the realities of how politics affects the court and its justices.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

While critics blast the Supreme Court as hyperpartisan, Justice Amy Coney Barrett this week attempted to sway public perception, insisting the institution is independent from politics.

“My goal today is to convince you that this court is not comprised of a bunch of partisan hacks,” she told attendees at the 30th anniversary of the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center, a department founded by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Republican lawmaker who championed Barrett’s nomination to the bench and introduced her at Sunday’s event.

Barrett’s colleague, Justice Stephen Breyer, likewise tried to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court this week.

“A lot of people will strongly disagree with many of the opinions or dissents that you write, but still, internally, you must feel that this is not a political institution,” he told The Washington Post on Monday.

The “single most important point that I hope people will take” from my 27 years on the nation’s high court “is judges are not junior league politicians,” Breyer, 83, added.

stephen breyer
Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

“It’s naive to think people will – it’s hard to believe that you can convince people of that,” William Lasser, a Clemson University professor focused on the politics of the Supreme Court, told Insider in response to the two justices’ comments.

Though the conservative and liberal members of the court sought to defend their roles, they are ignoring what experts claim is the obvious: politics undeniably affects the Supreme Court and its justices.

“If the justices have to defend themselves from being partisan, that’s already a problem in and of itself,” Lasser added. “The court has always been a political institution for its history.”

Public approval of the Supreme Court is at an all-time low

Justices have long tried to uphold confidence in the federal judiciary, often dismissing criticisms that its members are loyal to the Republican or Democratic presidents who appoint them. In one instance in 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts pushed back on then-President Donald Trump labeling a judge who ruled against his policy an “Obama judge.”

“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” Roberts said in a statement at the time. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for.”

Despite their efforts, public approval of the US’ highest court appears to be eroding. Just 37% of Americans – an all-time low – approve of the way Supreme Court is handling its job, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday. A Gallup poll conducted in July also found that public approval in the Supreme Court declined by 9 percentage points compared to the same month in 2020.

Supreme Court
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo on April 23, 2021. Seated from left are Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts, Stephen Breyer, and Sonia Sotomayor. Standing from left are Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett.

“Certainly, if you disagree with either of these justices, it’s hard to look at Justice Barrett, as a Democrat, and say, ‘I believe that she’s not acting like a Republican,'” Lasser said. “It’s hard to look at Breyer, if you’re a Republican, and not see a Democrat.”

Lasser took particular issue with Barrett’s comment on Sunday that the justices’ “judicial philosophies are not the same as political parties.”

“It’s true that their judicial philosophies are authentic and they believe them very deeply,” he said, but “they’re underestimating the extent to which these partisan viewpoints influence their judicial philosophies.”

Allison Orr Larsen, a law professor at the College of William and Mary, shared a similar point, telling Insider that it’s over-simplistic to call the justices political, but that the justices aren’t immune from politics.

“They have views about the way the world works and those views necessarily influence how they decide cases, particularly the high-profile ones,” she said. “I would not call that partisan behavior, but I would not call it strictly legal. There are political beliefs and normative commitments that divide the Justices from one another, and that is undeniable.”

abortion protest Brett Kavanaugh home
Protesters gather outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, in Chevy Chase, Md.

‘The court is inevitably enmeshed in politics’

There are several other glaring ways in which the Supreme Court is plagued by politics.

To name a few: Republican and Democratic candidates regularly campaign on issues the Supreme Court rules on, the US president selects a Supreme Court nominee that the Senate then confirms them, and Americans frequently take sides in Supreme Court cases based on their political beliefs.

The heated confirmation hearings of Trump nominees Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Barrett highlight how politics have affected the court in recent years, according to Lawrence Baum, a political science professor at Ohio State University, whose expertise is the federal judiciary.

“Regardless of how the justices do their job, the court is inevitably enmeshed in politics,” Baum said. “It’s inescapable that the court is linked to a larger political world.”

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Trump, McConnell, and the Republican-led Senate faced widespread backlash last fall for rushing to confirm Barrett in the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

Barrett has largely avoided the public spotlight since, but her comments at the McConnell Center over the weekend have sparked new criticism. Her choice to appear at an event hosted by the GOP leader while trying to persuade the public that justices aren’t partisan wasn’t “wise,” Larsen told Insider.

But Lasser, the Clemson University professor, pointed out: “Where else could she go?”

“She’s not gonna go to a very liberal place and give a speech because she’s not going to be invited to give a speech there,” he said. “These worlds have become, as all our politics has become and as our society has become, increasingly polarized around these very issues that the court has both shaped and responded to.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

McConnell told Trump he felt ‘stronger about Kavanaugh than mule piss’ during the justice’s confirmation, book says

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell told Trump he felt “stronger about Kavanaugh than mule piss,” book says.
  • “What?” Trump asked, prompting McConnell to explain that mule urine is the strongest thing in Kentucky.
  • Authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa detailed the exchange in their forthcoming book “Peril.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told then-President Donald Trump he felt stronger about Brett Kavanaugh’s chances at getting through his Supreme Court confirmation hearings “than mule piss,” according to a new book by authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.

They detailed the exchange in their forthcoming book, “Peril,” an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.

The conversation took place amid Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation hearings during which Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate about her allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh.

Ford was scheduled to testify to the Senate on September 27. That morning, Trump and McConnell spoke over the phone, and Trump asked the Kentucky Republican if he should pull Kavanaugh’s nomination, the book said.

“Why don’t we talk after Dr. Ford testifies,” McConnell said. “Think of that as halftime.”

Lawmakers and pundits on both sides of the aisle later praised Ford’s emotionally charged testimony as credible, while those on the right lauded Kavanaugh’s heated defense. After the testimony wrapped, the book said, Trump called McConnell again to get his assessment.

“How do you feel about Kavanaugh?” the president asked, according to the book. “I feel stronger about Kavanaugh than mule piss,” McConnell responded.

“What?” Trump asked McConnell in the conversation, details of which were first reported by The New York Times in 2018.

McConnell explained that mule urine is the strongest thing in Kentucky, the book said, and he added, “We ought to stick with him,” referring to Kavanaugh.

The Republican lawmaker also stressed the urgency of the situation.

“We need to wrap this one up one way or the other because we don’t know whether we’ll still be in the majority after November,” following the 2018 midterm elections, he said, according to the book.

Kavanaugh was Trump’s second nominee to the Supreme Court, and his confirmation went a long way in cementing McConnell and Trump’s pledge to move the federal judiciary to the right.

The final vote came after a rocky confirmation process, during which Ford, a psychology professor, told her congressional representatives Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her in 1982, when they were teenagers growing up in suburban Maryland.

She later came forward publicly with her allegations and was invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Ford’s testimony was broadcast on national television and captured worldwide attention. It also lent new steam to the #MeToo movement and renewed questions about accountability for those in positions of political power.

In the end, Kavanaugh was confirmed to the high court by a vote of 50 to 48. Every Senate Republican who was present for the final confirmation voted yes, with the exception of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who voted “present.” West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was the lone Democrat to vote in favor of Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mitch McConnell warns that Republicans won’t back down from vow to force Democrats to raise debt ceiling alone: ‘Do you guys think I’m bluffing?’

Mitch McConnell Senate
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

  • McConnell appears more determined than ever to resist efforts to raise the debt ceiling with Democrats.
  • “It’s hard being in the majority. [Democrats] are the ones who will raise the debt limit,” he told Punchbowl News.
  • It threatens to deepen a perilous showdown between Democrats and Republicans that could derail the economic recovery.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears more determined than ever to hold the Republican line from breaking on the debt ceiling.

In an interview with Punchbowl News, the Kentucky Republican fired a warning shot to Democrats as he dug in further on a view he’s publicly expressed since late July.

“It’s their obligation. They should step up. It’s hard being in the majority. They are the ones who will raise the debt limit,” he said, adding, “Do you guys think I’m bluffing?”

McConnell insisted that the US must never default on its debt payments and pointed back to his previous support of raising the ceiling to cover spending that Congressional Republicans and Democrats had struck deals on. He said that wasn’t the case this year as Democrats passed a $1.9 trillion stimulus law along party-lines. They’re also drafting another spending package aimed at shoring up the social safety net.

“So the only issue is, whose responsibility is it to do it? A Democratic president, a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate,” he told Punchbowl News.

McConnell’s warning threatens to amplify a perilous showdown between Republicans and Democrats on renewing the nation’s ability to pay off its bills, known as the debt ceiling. The Treasury Department is making emergency cash payments to keep federal operations running, buying lawmakers some extra time.

But if Congress fails to agree on renewing the debt ceiling on time, experts say that could rattle financial markets and derail the economic recovery since the US’s ability to make payments on its $28 trillion national debt would be halted.

Democrats are pressuring Republicans to raise the debt ceiling alongside them, as GOP lawmakers did three times under the Trump administration.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently ruled out including a debt ceiling increase into their social spending bill. That legislation is traveling through the reconciliation process which only requires a simple majority vote and permits Democrats to go around fierce GOP resistance to the legislation.

A recent memo from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service indicated President Donald Trump added $5.4 trillion onto the national debt since the debt ceiling was last suspended in July 2019 through the end of his administration in January 2021. The analysis has been circulating among Democratic lawmakers.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer cited the figures on Monday as he tore into Republican resistance on the issue. “Let me be clear: taking the debt hostage and playing games with the full faith and credit of the United States is reckless, irresponsible, and will harm every single American,” he said in a Senate floor speech. “It is a complete non-starter.”

The debt ceiling is the legal limit that the Treasury Department can borrow to maintain federal operations authorized by Congress. Raising the debt limit doesn’t green-light new federal spending, it only allows the US to pay off existing spending.

Democrats may add the debt ceiling provision onto an emergency spending bill the White House wants Congress to approve this month to finance relief efforts after Hurricane Ida and wildfires in the western US, in conjunction with funding to avert government shutdown at the end of September. That tactic could persuade some Republicans to support the legislation.

But 46 Senate Republicans signed a letter in August pledging to not go along with Democrats on raising the debt ceiling. It’s also unclear whether there would be enough Republican votes in the House.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump reportedly ‘spewed expletives’ at McConnell after the senator acknowledged Biden’s win on the Senate floor, a new book claims

trump mcconnell insults gop
Former President Donald Trump took aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for not supporting him enough during his February impeachment trial.

  • Donald Trump reportedly unleashed an expletive-filled tirade against Mitch McConnell after he recognized Joe Biden’s win.
  • “You never really got me. You don’t understand me,” Trump reportedly told the senator.
  • A forthcoming book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa details the conversation and the final days of Trump’s presidency.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After the Electoral College affirmed Joe Biden’s win in December 2020, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delivered a long-awaited speech on the Senate Floor acknowledging Biden as president-elect after six weeks of refusing to recognize his win.

“The Electoral College has spoken. So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden,” McConnell said.

The acknowledgment infuriated then-President Donald Trump, according to an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that was obtained by CNN.

Trump was in the midst of mounting several failed legal battles in an attempt to overturn the legitimate results of the race.

Following McConnell’s speech, Trump called the Kentucky Senator immediately, and “spewed expletives,” CNN reported, citing the book.

“And this is the thanks I got?” Trump reportedly asked. “You never really got me. You don’t understand me.”

McConnell ended the call thereafter, telling Trump, “You lost the election. The Electoral College has spoken,” according to CNN’s reporting on the book.

A representative from the Trump Organization did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment.

The reporting tracks with tweets from Trump at the time, in which he targeted McConnell directly by sharing a news article about his allies criticizing the Kentucky senator for congratulating Biden.

“Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting President (by a lot),” Trump tweeted on December 16.

While Trump did indeed secure more votes than any past US presidential candidate, he did not win more votes than Biden’s 81 million.

For weeks after the November election, McConnell stayed silent as Trump launched multiple legal challenges, and affirmed the then-president’s right to pursue lawsuits.

According to Costa and Woodward’s new book, McConnell’s permissive handling of Trump in the immediate aftermath of the election was, in part, a ploy to secure the president’s help in winning the runoff elections for the two US Senate seats from Georgia.

“I have to be gentle,” McConnell reportedly said to William Barr about Trump.

Democratic Sens. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff ended up securing the seats.

The insight into the Republican Party’s post-election infighting is just one of several juicy details promised to be divulged in Woodward and Costa’s “Peril,” which focuses on the final weeks of Trump’s presidency and is set to be released next week.

Read the original article on Business Insider

McConnell told Biden not to call Trump after the election, worrying it would send the erratic president into a fury: book

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens as the Senate Rules Committee holds a hearing on the “For the People Act,” which would expand access to voting and other voting reforms, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

  • McConnell was very concerned a call from Biden after the 2020 election would launch Trump into a fury, per a new book.
  • He worked through a backchannel to prevent a call from happening.
  • This came as the nation’s top leaders and officials were worried Trump would take drastic actions during his final days in office.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After the 2020 election, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was so concerned about how President Donald Trump would react to a phone call from President-elect Joe Biden that he worked through a backchannel to ensure it didn’t happen, according to an excerpt of a new book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa that was obtained by The Washington Post.

McConnell was worried that a call from Biden would launch Trump into a fury, according to the book, “Peril,” by Woodward and Costa, which is set to be released next week.

So he asked GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to ask Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who has a close relationship with Biden, to tell the president-elect not to call Trump, per the excerpt.

Trump refused to accept the results of the election, despite no evidence of mass fraud or major irregularities. He has repeatedly and baseless claimed that Biden stole the election from him. His lies helped spark the deadly January 6 insurrection.

McConnell’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Kentucky Republican’s consternation over Trump’s potential reaction to a phone call came as a number of the US’s top leaders and officials were increasingly concerned about the former president’s erratic behavior, worrying he would take drastic actions during his final days in office.

The nation’s top general, Mark Milley, was “certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election,” the book said.

Woodward and Costa wrote that Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, contacted his Chinese counterpart twice during Trump’s final months to assure him the US would not launch an attack on China.

There were also concerns that Trump would launch a strike against Iran on his way out of office amid heightened tensions over the US adversary’s nuclear program, which has been detailed in numerous reports. After a meeting on the issue in November, the book states that CIA Director Gina Haspel called Milley and said, “This is a highly dangerous situation. We are going to lash out for his ego?”

Woodward and Costa also obtained a transcript of a call that occurred between Milley and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on January 8, two days after the Capitol insurrection. According to the book, Pelosi wanted to know “what precautions are available to prevent an unstable president from initiating military hostilities or from accessing the launch codes and ordering a nuclear strike.”

Milley told Pelosi there were “a lot of checks in the system,” per the book. Pelosi subsequently said to Milley of Trump, “He’s crazy. You know he’s crazy.”

The book said that Milley told Pelosi he agreed with her “on everything.”

Read the original article on Business Insider