Politics

Trump Slams Ryan, McConnell Over Debt Ceiling ‘Mess’

President tweets that the GOP leaders ignored his advice

President Donald Trump on Thursday lashed out at Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the debt ceiling “mess.” (Alex Wong/Getty Images file photo)

Updated at 9:52 a.m. President Donald Trump on Thursday criticized Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, saying they created a debt ceiling “mess” by refusing his advice.

After the White House and McConnell’s office on Wednesday denied a recent New York Times report about tensions — including a profanity-filled phone call — between the two, the president started Thursday by attacking the Senate leader.

The Twitter strike also came a day after Ryan had pushed back on Trump’s threat to shut down the government unless he gets money for his proposed southern border wall.

Trump’s tweets also shined a fresh light on the ill will and distrust fueling much of the Republican disunity that has left it without a major legislative accomplishment during Trump’s seven-month tenure while controlling both chambers on the Hill and the White House.

[Legislative Agenda Takes Back Seat to Trump’s ‘Beautiful Apartment’]

The president wrote that he suggested to Ryan and McConnell that they attach a measure addressing the country’s borrowing limit to a just-passed veterans bill, which Trump said would have ensured “easy approval.”

In a second tweet, Trump criticized the GOP leaders for not tying the debt ceiling to the veterans bill, saying their refusal means "now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!"

One senior GOP aide told Roll Call it was not clear whether the White House or GOP leadership on Capitol Hill first proposed the idea, which was eventually scuttled.

About 90 minutes after those tweets, the president fired off another saying the “only problem” he has with McConnell is the Senate majority leader’s inability to pass a health overhaul measure despite promising to do so for seven years.

The White House on Wednesday evening sought to tamp down talk that Trump and McConnell were at odds.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the two “remain united on many shared priorities, including middle class tax relief, strengthening the military, constructing a southern border wall, and other important issues.”

“They will hold previously scheduled meetings following the August recess to discuss these critical items with members of the congressional leadership and the president’s Cabinet,” Sanders said in a statement. “White House and leadership staff are coordinating regarding the details of those meetings.”

But the statement, notably, did not say a New York Times report about an expletive-laden phone call between the GOP leaders was inaccurate.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is pushing a “clean” debt ceiling increase, though some Republican lawmakers want to attach federal spending cuts. Democrats, who will be asked to supply the votes to push the measure across the finish line, are staunchly opposed to that idea.

Several GOP House members criticized the president’s admission he wanted to attach a debt ceiling measure to the veterans bill, which likely would have made it hard to vote down given the wide support for former members of the military.

— Niels Lesniewski and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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