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Schumer frustrates GOP, Manchin with fiery debt ceiling speech

The Hill logo The Hill 10/8/2021 Jordain Carney
Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) arrives for a press conference after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. © Greg Nash Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) arrives for a press conference after the weekly policy luncheon on Tuesday, October 5, 2021.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sparked anger among Senate Republicans after he railed against them just after they helped advance a short-term debt ceiling extension over a key hurdle.

The speech from Schumer came after 11 GOP senators joined with all Democrats to end debate on the short-term debt hike. Republicans had worked for hours behind the scenes to try to arm-twist and lock down the at least 10 GOP votes needed to overcome the hurdle.

The Senate passed the debt ceiling increase on a party-line, 50-48 vote.

Schumer blasted the GOP debt ceiling strategy, accusing them of playing a "dangerous and risky partisan game" and saying Democrats were able to "pull our country back from the cliff's edge that Republicans tried to push us over."

The remarks angered Republicans, who each voted against the short-term debt ceiling extension in the final vote where only a simple majority was needed. It also sparked pushback from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who could be seen with his hands over his face for part of Schumer's remarks.

"I didn't think it was appropriate at this time, and we had a talk about that," Manchin told reporters as he left the Capitol for the night. "I'm sure Chuck's frustration was up, but that was not a way of taking it out."

Manchin added that senators needed to "de-weaponize" and "stop playing politics."


Video: Schumer to GOP: 'Get out of the way' on debt limit (Associated Press)

Manchin could be seen talking with Schumer as the Democratic leader sat at his desk after giving the speech. Senate GOP Whip John Thune (S.D.), one of 11 GOP senators who voted to end debate on the debt bill, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also both approached Schumer on the floor after his speech.

Thune said he told Schumer that he was frustrated with the tone of the Democratic leader's speech.

"I thought it was totally out of line. I just thought it was an incredibly partisan speech after we had just helped him solve a problem. ... I let him have it," Thune said.

Romney, referring to Schumer's remarks, told reporters that "there's a time to be graceful and there's a time to be combative, and that was a time for grace."

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said he "heard a number of people" on the Senate floor calling Schumer's speech counterproductive. And Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said Schumer's remarks were "unnecessarily partisan."

Sen. Mike Rounds (S.D.), another GOP "yes" vote on the procedural hurdle, told CNN that he thought the comments from Schumer were a "classless speech."

The Senate's vote capped off a weeks-long standoff over how to raise the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has given Congress until Oct. 18, or warned that they could spark a default.

That led to an entrenched stalemate between Schumer and Republicans, who were trying to force Democrats to raise the debt ceiling on their own under a budget process known as reconciliation.

The short-term extension is expected to raise the debt ceiling until roughly Dec. 3, according to Treasury Department estimates.

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