'Deficiency of leadership': Manchin blasts Biden over debt limit, not working with Republicans

Sen. Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, on Thursday called out President Joe Biden and accused him of showing a “deficiency of leadership” for his handling of a slate of fiscal issues facing the country – including a refusal to work with Republicans on a debt ceiling plan.  

“America is facing a historic economic crisis brought on by an abject failure to address our exploding national debt, chronic inflation, a looming recession, and the more immediate need to raise the debt ceiling. Our elected leaders must stop with the political games, work together and negotiate a compromise,” Manchin said in a statement.

“Instead, it has been more than 78 days since President Biden last met with Speaker McCarthy. This signals a deficiency of leadership, and it must change,” he added.  

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., unveiled a Republican debt ceiling plan on Wednesday that includes $4.5 trillion in cuts. Proposed cuts could be tied to a $1.5 trillion increase of the debt ceiling.  

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What does raising the debt ceiling mean?  

The debt ceiling is the maximum amount the federal government can spend on existing expenses, such as Social Security. Officials have warned that the U.S. could default on its debt as soon as June.  

Biden has said he won’t negotiate the debt ceiling and that it should be raised by Congress without parameters.  

"Guess what? He's attempting to try to make it happen now," Biden said after McCarthy unveiled the Republican plan. "Massive cuts to programs you count on. Massive benefits protected for those at the top." 

Manchin, a critical Senate swing vote, on Thursday said “While it is reasonable to sincerely disagree with any specific debt ceiling approach, we will achieve a historic default, and the economic whirlwind which follows, if President Biden continues to refuse to even negotiate a reasonable and commonsense compromise.”  

The West Virginia lawmaker lauded McCarthy for a plan he said “would prevent default and rein in federal spending.” But he noted he doesn’t “agree with everything proposed.” 

"I urge President Biden to come to the table, propose a plan for real and substantive spending cuts and deficit reduction, and negotiate now," he said. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Thursday responded to Manchin’s comments, telling reporters Biden and the senator have “a strong relationship.”  

“The way to have a real negotiation on the budget is for House Republicans to take threats of default when it comes to the economy, and what it could potentially do to the economy, off the table,” she said. 

“House Republicans need to get to work and stop the delay and put a bill on the floor that’s going to avoid default,” she added.  

Contributing: Joey Garrison and Ella Lee, USA TODAY