Trump’s scandal-plagued former HHS secretary still has $1.4 million left in his campaign account, and the FEC wants to know what he’ll do with it

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price testifies during his confirmation hearing on January 18, 2017.
Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price testifies during his confirmation hearing on January 18, 2017.

  • Former HHS Secretary Tom Price still has $1.4 million left in his old congressional campaign account.
  • The FEC recently sent a letter to the committee asking what it intends to do with the funds.
  • Price spent over $450k in taxpayer money on charter flights during his time as Trump’s health secretary.

Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price still has $1.4 million left in his old congressional campaign account, and the Federal Election Commission wants to know what he’ll do with it.

Price represented Georgia’s 6th congressional district from 2005 to 2017, when he was selected by former President Donald Trump to serve as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He resigned less than a year later amid criticism for using taxpayer money to travel on charter flights around the country.

“Your most recent report discloses a significant amount of residual cash on hand,” reads the letter from the commission, referring to the leftover campaign cash. “Please explain the committee’s intended use of the residual campaign funds. If the candidate intends to terminate the committee, redesignate the committee as a principal campaign committee for a future election or convert it to a multicandidate political committee, please note this for the public record.”

Myles Martin, a spokesman for the FEC, told Insider that the commission sends letters to campaign accounts that appear to be largely dormant but have above a certain threshold of cash left on hand. The FEC began sending these kinds of letters to campaigns in July 2018 as part of an effort to ensure better compliance with federal law.

The letter gives Price’s campaign 35 days to respond. If they don’t, the commission could potentially move towards compelling Price to close down the old account, Martin said.

“Be aware that committee assets, including cash-on-hand, may not be converted to personal use,” the letter warns.

The committee has been fairly active, spending roughly $500,000 altogether in the 4 and 1/2 years since Price left Congress. More recently, Price donated $500 in June to Turning Point USA, a conservative group active on college campuses. He also sent $2,500 to the George Republican Party in April and $2,000 to Rep. Adam Kinzinger – an anti-Trump Republican from Illinois – in March.

Price’s campaign also contributed $100,000 to the “Keep America America Action Fund,” a super PAC that supported the doomed campaigns and former Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia ahead of the January 2021 runoffs. Other contributions in the last few years include $35,000 sent to Senate Republicans’ campaign arm in 2019, 2 payments of $2,000 to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Republican primary opponent, and a variety of charitable causes.

Reached by phone, the committee’s treasurer Paul Kilgore said he was unable to answer any questions about what the committee might do in the future. “I’m just the treasurer, I don’t speak for the committee itself,” he said before hanging up. A request for comment sent to the campaign’s email did not receive an immediate response.

The use of leftover cash is notable for Price, who gained notoriety for spending $456,000 in taxpayer funds on charter flights during his brief tenure in the Trump White House. The Washington Post recently revealed new details of Price’s use of charter flights via a recent release of government documents. Price later paid nearly $60,000 to the government to compensate for his travel costs.

Ultimately, provided that he’s responsive to the commission, Price can choose to keep the old campaign account active indefinitely, spending the sum of old political contributions on various candidates and causes in a practice that has been labelled “zombie campaigning.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Stephanie Grisham said she was ‘part of something unusually evil’ in the Trump White House

Stephanie Grisham
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham watches as US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before he boards Marine One at the White House on November 08, 2019.

  • Stephanie Grisham said a “rebrand” would be tough after her time in the Trump administration.
  • In a New York Magazine profile, the former White House press secretary opened up about her tenure in the White House.
  • “I think this will follow me forever,” she said.

Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an article published this week that her role in former President Donald Trump’s administration will make it difficult for her to “rebrand” and would likely stick with her “forever.”

Grisham, who was former first lady Melania Trump’s chief of staff and press secretary at the time of her resignation on Jan. 6, was the subject of a profile by New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, where the longtime GOP official said her future opportunities would be limited.

The former press secretary recently released a bombshell memoir, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” which chronicles her time in the often-turbulent Trump White House.

While scores of former White House press secretaries have catapulted from their high-visibility role at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to plum positions in the private sector and academia, many former Trump staffers have had difficulties in the job market, and even more so after the Capitol insurrection.

“I don’t think I can rebrand. I think this will follow me forever,” Grisham told Nuzzi of her time in the White House. “I believe that I was part of something unusually evil, and I hope that it was a one-time lesson for our country and that I can be a part of making sure that at least that evil doesn’t come back now.”

Grisham, who said in a recent CNN interview that she didn’t vote for Trump in the 2020 election, is ringing the alarm regarding another stint in the White House by the former president, which she said would be defined by “revenge.”

“He’s on his revenge tour for people who dared to vote for impeachment,” she told ABC News host George Stephanopoulos on Monday. “I want to just warn people that once he takes office, if he were to win, he doesn’t have to worry about reelection anymore. He will be about revenge.”

“He will probably have some pretty draconian policies that go on,” Grisham added. “There were conversations a lot of times that people would say, ‘That’ll be the second term.’ Meaning, we won’t have to worry about a reelection.”

In a Friday interview with Insider, Grisham said that she struggled with anxiety and had to be “deprogrammed” after her resignation from the White House in response to the Jan. 6 riot.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Grisham moved to a small town in Kansas and spent her final months in the administration commuting between her new home and Washington, DC. In her interview, she spoke of the pressures that came with her tenure in the Trump White House.

“I don’t want to speak for my colleagues, but I know for me, a toxic environment was normal,” she said. “I’ve tried to explain to people that when I left and went to Kansas, normal things were not normal to me. Like quiet nights with crickets chirping and stars, it gave me anxiety. And having just dinner with family and watching TV, normal things made me anxious because I had been so used to the chaos.”

While speaking with Insider, Grisham also said that she would have resigned from the White House even if her relationship with the Trumps hadn’t soured and the events of Jan. 6 had never occurred.

“I was, by that time, done,” Grisham said. “I had been done for probably six months before I resigned and had tried to resign a few times and the first lady had talked me into staying, which also contradicts her statements that I was troubled and terrible.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump urged GOP senators to vote ‘no’ on raising the debt ceiling. 11 senators, including Mitch McConnell, ignored him and voted to pave the way for passage.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives a thumbs up when asked whether a deal has been reached regarding the ongoing debate on the national debt reduction on July 31, 2011 in Washington, DC.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gives a thumbs up when asked whether a deal has been reached regarding the ongoing debate on the national debt reduction on July 31, 2011 in Washington, DC.

  • Former President Donald Trump has been vocal about disagreeing with raising the debt ceiling.
  • But 11 GOP senators helped Democrats clear a procedural vote that paved the way for final passage.
  • Trump’s sway is more limited in the Senate compared to the House.

Former President Donald Trump urged Senate Republicans to oppose raising the debt ceiling only minutes before the vote began. But 11 GOP senators – including the upper chamber’s top Republican – ignored his comments anyway and helped Democrats clear a procedural hurdle in the deadlocked Senate allowing the bill to pass in the end.

“Republican Senators, do not vote for this terrible deal being pushed by folding Mitch McConnell. Stand strong for our Country. The American people are with you!” the former president advised.

Eleven GOP senators helped Democrats clear an initial procedural vote to cut off debate and break the 60-vote threshold needed to overcome a filibuster. That allowed the measure to advance to final passage with only Democratic votes.

Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Shelley Moore-Capito of West Virginia, Susan Collins of Maine, John Cornyn of Texas, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Richard Shelby of Alabama, and John Thune of South Dakota helped Democrats break the filibuster. The cloture vote was 61-38; the final vote on the bill was 50-48 along party lines.

Trump’s influence is more limited in the Senate compared to the House, where he holds outsized sway among Republican lawmakers. In the summer, 19 Republican senators supported President Joe Biden’s $550 billion infrastructure bill, despite his demands that they tank it. Still, that doesn’t mean he wields no influence in the Senate.

“I think Donald Trump always influences people’s votes whether he says something or doesn’t,” Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told reporters.

Senate Republicans were largely upset with McConnell’s maneuver on Thursday, and they struggled to dig up 10 votes in their ranks to clear the first procedural vote, known as cloture. Raising the debt ceiling would avoid a government default. An agreement made Thursday allows for a $480 billion increase until December 3.

The debt ceiling is the statutory cap on how much the government can borrow to repay its bills. Suspending the limit gives the US more time to pay its bills for pandemic stimulus and other key aid programs from the last two years. If Congress fails to raise the limit, the government can default on its debt and plunge the US into a new economic crisis.

“We’ve averted the fiscal cliff – at least for now,” Murkowski told reporters after the vote.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump and Jared Kushner told Rep. Adam Schiff before the Russia probe that he does a ‘good job’ on TV: book

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California checks his phone in between television interviews in the Cannon House Office Building on July 26, 2021.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California checks his phone in between television interviews in the Cannon House Office Building on July 26, 2021.

  • Former President Trump and Jared Kushner both praised Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff for his TV appearances.
  • “You know, you do a good job,” Trump told Schiff in the Oval Office in March 2017.
  • That’s according to Schiff’s new memoir, “Midnight in Washington.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Both former President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner praised Democratic Rep. Adam of Schiff of California for his television appearances in the early months of the Trump administration, according to the congressman’s new book.

CNN reported the exchange between Schiff and the Trump family on Wednesday based on excerpts from Schiff’s forthcoming memoir, “Midnight in Washington,” which is set to be published next week.

“You know, you do a good job,” Trump told the Democratic congressman in the Oval Office in March 2017, according to the CNN excerpt. Schiff wrote that he had been invited to the White House that month to view “alleged intelligence about spying on Trump’s campaign.”

“You know, you do a really good job on TV,” Kushner told Schiff several months later as he testified before the House Intelligence committee in July 2017, per the book. Schiff said this exchange clarified what Trump had meant back in March.

“I don’t think your father-in-law would agree,” Schiff says he responded to Kushner.

“Oh, yes, he does, and that’s why,” Kushner replied, per CNN.

Trump and Kushner did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Schiff, who was then the ranking member of the intelligence committee, later went on to chair the committee following Democrats’ 2018 midterm victory, setting up the House Democratic investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia and eventual impeachment probe over Trump’s phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Schiff is a frequent fixture on TV as one of the party’s leading national security voices, earning the congressman both the adoration of Democrats and the ire of Republicans.

The book also includes Schiff’s thoughts on the state of American democracy and his reactions to some of the most high-profile events of the Trump years, events in which Schiff himself played a significant role.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Stephanie Grisham says she received a ‘vague and cold’ letter from Melania Trump after resigning from the White House: book

Stephanie Grisham
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham listens during a signing of a “safe third country” agreement in the White House on July 26, 2019.

  • Stephanie Grisham wrote in her new memoir that she received a “cold” note from Melania Trump after resigning from her White House role.
  • In the book, Grisham called the letter “the equivalent of a ‘Dear John’ letter for the workplace.”
  • Grisham resigned as the former first lady’s chief of staff and press secretary on January 6.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For years, former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was a trusted advisor to former first lady Melania Trump, but in the end, all she received was a “cold” letter from her former boss, which she detailed in her newly-released memoir “I’ll Take Your Questions Now.”

Grisham, who resigned as the former first lady’s chief of staff and press secretary after becoming disillusioned by her boss’s reaction to the January 6 Capitol riot, said that after leaving the White House in the waning days of the administration, she has not spoken with many of her former coworkers.

And she has not spoken to Melania Trump, whom she “had talked or texted almost every day for years,” since leaving her post that day.

After Grisham’s departure, the loss from that relationship was deepened even further when the former first lady sent her an uninspiring letter that was composed as if it were addressed to someone whom she’d barely known.

“After they left the White House, Mrs. Trump sent all of her employees personalized letters thanking them for their service, along with a candid photo with them that she had signed. I know that because the gift was my idea and I wrote the letters which were filled with personalized details as well as their job titles,” she wrote.

She added: “Not that it matters at this point, but I received no gift, and my letter was so vague and cold that a doorman would have been offended. It read, ‘Dear Stephanie, Thank you for your service to the American people as a member of the office of the First Lady. I hope you look back on your time at the White House as cherished, knowing you helped serve our country. I send my best wishes to you on your next endeavor.'”

Grisham, who had ascended to the heights of GOP politics during her time in Washington, DC, wrote that she felt slighted by the impersonal tone of the letter.

“Quite the ‘Goodbye, and good luck,’ right? It’s the equivalent of a ‘Dear John’ letter for the workplace,” she wrote. “I’m not sure that was done because I resigned on January 6 or because my resignation went public in the press and she felt betrayed.”

She added: “But I know her well enough to know that she knew what she was doing with that letter.”

During her tenure as White House press secretary, Grisham never conducted regular briefings.

In her memoir, she described the work atmosphere of the White House in unflattering terms, disparaging it as “a hot mess.”

“I can give you endless metaphors to describe the Trump White House from a press person’s perspective – living in a house that was always on fire or in an insane asylum where you couldn’t tell the difference between the patients and the attendants or on a roller coaster that never stopped – but trust me, it was a hot mess 24/7,” she wrote. “How people did the job without going crazy was a question in itself.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Sen. Susan Collins floats GOP support for a debt limit hike in exchange for Democrats abandoning Biden’s $3.5 trillion social spending plan

susan collins
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) speaks at a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on September 23, 2020 in Washington, DC.

  • Sen. Collins floated GOP support for a debt limit hike if Democrats abandoned Biden’s economic agenda.
  • Democrats flatly dismissed Collin’s suggestion as a non-starter.
  • Republicans are refusing to raise the debt limit, intensifying a standoff that’s pushing the US closer to default.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine suggested some Republicans would back a debt limit hike if Democrats abandoned the $3.5 trillion social spending package containing the bulk of President Joe Biden’s economic agenda.

On Monday, she suggested that “some Republicans would vote to raise the debt limit if they knew the Democrats were going to abandon the $3.5 trillion package, which appears unlikely but that’s an agreement that could be reached.”

The Maine Republican echoed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and urged Democrats to raise it unilaterally through reconciliation. It’s the same maneuver the party is using to approve their hefty social spending plan relying on only Democratic votes and bypassing unanimous GOP opposition.

Democrats aim to expand Medicare and Medicaid, ensure families can access and afford childcare, add four years to public education with universal Pre-K and tuition-free community college, and renew monthly cash payments to families in their spending plan.

Democrats are insisting they won’t renew the nation’s ability to pay its bills on their own. The debt limit refers to the amount the US can borrow to pay off existing debts. Raising it does not authorize future spending. They also flatly dismissed scrapping Biden’s sprawling domestic agenda in exchange for GOP support to lift the debt ceiling as a non-starter.

“Senate Republicans are holding our economy hostage,” Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, chair of the Joint Economic Committee, said in a tweet. “Mitch McConnell claimed he isn’t making demands for lifting the debt ceiling, but Susan Collins gave the game away: They’re demanding the President abandon the agenda the American people elected him to pass.”

“This reflects the general attitude of the Republican conference to burn it all down when out of power,” a Senate Democratic aide granted anonymity to speak candidly told Insider.

The impasse over the debt limit heightened on Monday as Biden assailed Senate Republicans for blocking Democratic efforts to approve a debt limit hike with bipartisan support. He called it “hypocritical, dangerous, and disgraceful” during a Monday press conference.

He also couldn’t guarantee the US would be able to avoid a potentially catastrophic default. “That’s up to Mitch McConnell,” he said.

Democrats have sharply challenged the GOP’s rationale for opposing lifting the debt cap, arguing both parties are responsible for piling onto the federal debt with emergency spending during the pandemic and domestic spending increases under President Donald Trump. Republicans also lifted or suspended the debt ceiling three times under the Trump administration.

Democrats are able to lift the debt ceiling on their own. But it could be a time-consuming endeavor stretching on for at least two weeks with no guarantee they can successfully pull it off ahead of an Oct. 18 default deadline due to the strict guidelines governing reconciliation.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Stephanie Grisham describes the Trump White House as ‘a clown car on fire running at full speed into a warehouse full of fireworks’

stephanie grisham
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 9 : Director of Communications for the First Lady Stephanie Grisham follows President Donald J. Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, and son Barron Trump as they walk to Marine One to depart from the South Lawn at the White House on Friday, March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC.

  • Former top White House aide Stephanie Grisham described the Trump White House as constant chaos.
  • Grisham wrote in her memoir that the White House was “like a clown car on fire” and “a hot mess 24/7.”
  • Grisham served as the White House communications director and press secretary and chief of staff to Melania Trump.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former top White House aide Stephanie Grisham used a slew of colorful metaphors to describe former President Donald Trump’s White House in her forthcoming memoir.

In one instance, she wrote that in the White House, “everything was like a clown car on fire running at full speed into a warehouse full of fireworks,” according to an excerpt of her book published by Politico on Friday.

Grisham, who served in a series of senior roles in both the East and West wings, was a loyal member of the Trump’s inner circle for five years before resigning her post as chief of staff to then-first lady Melania Trump following the Capitol riot on January 6.

“I can give you endless metaphors to describe the Trump White House from a press person’s perspective – living in a house that was always on fire or in an insane asylum where you couldn’t tell the difference between the patients and the attendants or on a roller coaster that never stopped – but trust me, it was a hot mess 24/7,” she wrote in “I’ll Take Your Questions Now: My Time in the Trump White House.” “How people did the job without going crazy was a question in itself.”

She described the former president’s tweets, in which she often learned important information she should have been informed of as his communications director and press secretary, as a sprinkler system raining down on her work.

“Working as Trump’s spokesperson was like sitting in a beautiful office while a sprinkler system pours water down on you every second and ruins everything on your desk,” she wrote, adding, “except in this case the water took the form of tweets and words and statements.”

Both the former president and first lady have condemned Grisham in personal terms since the substance of her memoir emerged in the press.

“Stephanie didn’t have what it takes and that was obvious from the beginning,” Trump told The New York Times in a statement earlier this week.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Biden’s defense secretary says Trump admin. didn’t handover plans for Afghanistan withdrawal, despite making deal with Taliban

Lloyd Austin Mark Milley
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, right, pictured in Maryland.

  • Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to House lawmakers he received no plans from Trump officials for the Afghanistan withdrawal.
  • “There was no handoff to me of any plans for a withdrawal,” Austin said.
  • The Trump admin. made a deal with the Taliban to pull all US troops by May 1.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Wednesday told House lawmakers that Trump officials did not handover any plans to him for the Afghanistan withdrawal. The Trump administration set the stage for the pullout via a February 2020 deal with the Taliban, which included a pledge to withdraw US troops by May 1, 2021.

“There was no handoff to me of any plans for a withdrawal,” Austin said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the Afghanistan withdrawal.

Austin added that he was “confident” Gen. Austin Miller, who stepped down as the top US commander in Afghanistan in July, was “making plans” for a pullout.

“But in terms of handoff from administration to administration, secretary to secretary, there was no handoff to me,” Austin said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a similar point in a House hearing earlier this month. “We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan,” Blinken said.

Pulling off a withdrawal from the longest conflict in US history was always going to be a highly complex task, involving removing or destroying valuable military equipment and safely pulling out thousands of US forces – all while hoping the fledgling US-backed Afghan government would not collapse in the process.

Ultimately, the Afghan government fell in concert with the US departure and Taliban takeover, which prompted scenes of mass chaos at the Kabul airport. Austin said the evacuation of thousands of people in August amounted to the “largest airlift conducted in U.S. history.”

President Joe Biden came into office with the drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan already underway. A blueprint for the next steps in the withdrawal from the administration that initiated the pullout could’ve made the process smoother.

The Trump administration’s February 2020 with the Taliban – known as the Doha agreement – called for the US to pull all troops by May. The agreement, which the US-backed Afghan government was excluded from, set up a 14-month timetable for the withdrawal of “all military forces of the US, its allies, and Coalition partners, including all non-diplomatic civilian personnel, private security contractors, trainers, advisors, and supporting services personnel.”

Biden largely upheld the agreement, though he extended the deadline for the withdrawal.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told both Senate and House lawmakers this week that the Taliban failed to live up to nearly all of the commitments the militant group made under the deal. The Taliban did not attack US forces after the agreement, but Milley said the militant Islamists “never renounced Al Qaeda or broke its affiliation with them.”

Milley and Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, also told lawmakers the Doha agreement was detrimental to morale among Afghan forces.

The Biden administration has laid much of the blame on the Taliban’s rapid conquest of Afghanistan on the Afghan military. Before marching into Kabul in mid-August, the Taliban took over major cities at a blistering pace – often without much of a fight. Just weeks before, Biden had expressed “trust” in the abilities of Afghan forces, who were trained and armed by the US.

The Biden administration has faced rampant criticism over its handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal. But Republicans who’ve gone after the administration over the pullout have often ignored the fact the Trump administration paved the way for the withdrawal by making a deal with the Taliban.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Gen. Milley says he was ‘certain President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese’

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and former President Trump.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley and former President Donald Trump.

  • Gen. Mark Milley defended a series of calls he made to his Chinese counterpart during the Trump administration.
  • “I am certain that President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese,” Milley said.
  • The calls were originally reported in a new book by journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

In his opening testimony before the Senate Armed Service Committee on Tuesday, Gen. Mark Milley – chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – defended his decisions to call his Chinese counterpart twice during the final months of the Trump administration.

“I know, I am certain, that President Trump did not intend on attacking the Chinese,” Milley said emphatically, explaining that the calls to the Chinese were generated by “concerning intelligence” that China believed an attack was imminent.

Milley said the calls were made to assure China that the US had no plans to attack it to try to reassure worried Chinese leaders. China has one of the world’s largest militaries and like the US is armed with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Milley also addressed his call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on January 8, noting the speaker made numerous personal references about the then-President during the call. “I am not qualified to determine the mental health of the President of the United States,” Milley says he told Pelosi.

The remarks came during a hearing on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan as Milley testified alongside Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of US Central Command.

Ahead of the publication of “Peril” by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa earlier this month, reports emerged that Milley made calls to his Chinese counterpart out of fear that Trump might start a war with the country during his final months in office. The former president has falsely said that Milley may be guilty of “treason” for his actions, while some congressional Republicans called for the general to be court martialed.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Mitch McConnell’s Senate GOP votes for the US to default on its debt and for the government to shut down

John Thune, Mitch McConnell, and Roy Blunt.
From left, Senate Minority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, and Senate Republican Policy Committee Chair Roy Blunt of Missouri.

  • Senate Republicans blocked a measure to avert a federal default and fund the government.
  • It ensures that political brinksmanship will intensify over the debt ceiling, bringing the US closer to potential economic chaos.
  • Democrats could lift the ceiling on their own, but there’s no guarantee of success.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Republicans led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked a measure on Monday evening that would have averted both a debt default and a government shutdown, bringing the US another step closer to a financial debacle as Republicans escalate efforts to derail President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda.

All 50 GOP senators voted against the House-approved legislation that suspends the debt ceiling until December 2022 and funds the government through December 3, heightening the brinksmanship over the federal government’s ability to pay its bills that has roiled Congress for months. The measure also included $28 billion disaster aid funding for communities ravaged by a recent pair of hurricanes, along with aid to resettle Afghan refugees in the US.

The failed vote was 48-50, and the bill failed to clear the 60-vote threshold to end debate known as the filibuster. After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer assailed Senate Republicans, saying they “voted to drive our country straight to a government shutdown and the first default in our country’s history.”

McConnell has insisted since June that Republicans will not sign onto a debt limit hike – or a an increase of how much the US government can pay back its bills – even as he said in September it was necessary to do so because “America must never default.” Republicans contend Democrats can take unilateral action to raise the ceiling and finance their party-line spending this year from the stimulus law and a $3.5 trillion social spending package.

“There’s no confusion about who runs this country, [Democrats] have both chambers,” Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota told Insider last week. Many Republicans, including McConnell, say they can support a stop-gap bill to fund the government past September 30, but only if it doesn’t include a debt ceiling increase.

Democrats have assaulted the GOP’s rationale for opposing lifting the debt cap, arguing that both parties are responsible for piling onto the federal debt with emergency spending during the pandemic and domestic spending increases under the Trump administration. Some Democratic lawmakers are proposing to get rid of the debt ceiling entirely.

The debt ceiling clash evokes a previous showdown between Republicans and the Obama administration in 2011 that caused turmoil in financial markets and led to a first-ever US credit downgrade. Now Republicans are voting against raising the debt ceiling in an effort to try to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own, even though Republicans voted to raise it three times under the Trump administration.

It’s not immediately clear whether Democrats will push for a party-line debt ceiling increase using reconciliation, the same process they’re employing to sidestep Republicans on their social spending plan. The tactic allows Democrats to pass their package with a simple majority vote.

But it could be a time-consuming endeavor stretching on for weeks with no guarantee Democrats can pull it off due to the strict guidelines governing reconciliation.

“We’ve never done one to create a debt limit spinoff, it’s not like this is a well-understood concept,” Charlie Ellsworth, a former Democratic Senate Budget Committee aide and now a partner at Pioneer Public Affairs, told Insider. “There’s a lot of things that need to be worked out for that pathway to be pursued.”

The consequences of a potential default could be immense and ripple throughout the American economy. The Bipartisan Policy Center projects the Treasury will run out of cash to meet the government’s financial obligations sometime between Oct. 15 and Nov. 4.

After that, millions of seniors could face an abrupt halt in Social Security checks, and US soldiers could miss out on scheduled paychecks. The White House has warned of potential federal funding cuts for safety net programs like Medicaid.

Read the original article on Business Insider