Biden: ‘I can’t’ guarantee U.S. won’t hit debt limit

Biden repeatedly chastised Senate Republicans for repeatedly blocking Democrats from passing a debt limit increase in recent weeks.

“What they’re doing today is so reckless and dangerous in my view,” he said. “Not only are Republicans refusing to do their job. They’re threatening to abuse the power, their power, to prevent us from doing our job saving the economy from a catastrophic event.”

“I think, quite frankly, it is hypocritical, dangerous and disgraceful. Their obstruction and irresponsibility knows absolutely no bounds,” he continued.

Biden’s admission is the most blunt to date of the risk that the ongoing standoff poses to the “full faith and credit” of the United States and its standing in the global economy. The president said that going through reconciliation is “fraught with all kinds of danger for miscalculation.”

Biden’s remarks came not long after McConnell sent a letter to the White House urging the president to talk Democrats into going it alone on reconciliation.

“I respectfully submit that it is time for you to engage directly with congressional Democrats on this matter,” McConnell told Biden in his letter, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO. “Your lieutenants in Congress must understand that you do not want your unified Democratic government to sleepwalk toward an avoidable catastrophe when they have had nearly three months’ notice to do their job.”

Biden told reporters he only received McConnell’s missive “10 minutes before I walked in here,” and his remarks indicated he would be unreceptive to the minority leader’s suggestions.

“Republicans say they will not do their part to avoid this needless calamity,” Biden said during his speech. “So be it. But they need to stop playing Russian roulette with the U.S. economy. Let the Democrats vote to raise the debt ceiling this week, without obstruction or further delays.”

Nevertheless Biden said he intends to talk with McConnell in the coming days in hopes of forging a way forward.

Politicians of both parties — including Biden on multiple occasions when he served in the Senate — have at times voted against raising the debt limit or threatened to do so as a means of making a political point. But Democrats and the White House have argued that Republicans are ratcheting that tactic up to a volatile extreme.

Biden warned that there is a chance in the coming days for upheaval in the financial markets that could prove disruptive to people’s everyday lives even if the U.S. ultimately manages to increase the debt limit before the so-called “X date” due to the level of uncertainty.

“In the days ahead, even before the default date, people may see the value of their retirement accounts shrink. They may see interest rates go up, which will ultimately raise their mortgage payments and car payments, and … your savings in your pocketbook could be directly impacted by this Republican stunt,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

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