President Joe Biden delivers remarks at White House on Monday, calling on Republicans to support the debt ceiling increase. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
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Oct. 4 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden Monday tried to take the fight to raise the debt ceiling directly to U.S. residents, explaining carefully what the debt ceiling is and squarely blaming Republicans for the standoff.
During a news conference at the White House, Biden noted that Republicans raised the debt ceiling three times while former President Donald Trump was in office, all with Democratic support.
Calling their position today "hypocritical," he said now the Republicans are threatening the "full faith and credit of the United States" by not supporting a debt ceiling increase.
"The debt ceiling is about paying off old debt," Biden said. "The Republicans won't raise the debt ceiling even though they are responsible for $8 trillion of bill incurred under the previous administration."
Biden attempted to draw a direct line from the debt ceiling fight to the pocketbook of average U.S. residents, saying a debt ceiling default will ruin the country's credit rating, leading to higher mortgage rates and various interest rate jumps that will affect credit card debt and other areas of the economy.
"We [as a country] can always borrow because we've always paid our debts," Biden said. "We pay what we owe. That's America. That's who we are."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote Biden a letter Monday, suggesting that the Democrats can pass the debt limit through the reconciliation process.
"Republicans' position is simple. We have no list of demands," McConnell said, according to The Hill newspaper. "For two and a half months, we have simply warned that since your party wishes to govern alone, it must handle the debt limit alone as well."
Biden said he saw McConnell's letter shortly before the news conference but declined to elaborate on it except to say he would address the contest of the letter with him.
When asked if he would push Democratic leaders to pass the debt ceiling through reconciliation, Biden initially dismissed the idea. He said the procedure could take "hundreds of votes," with no guarantee of success calling it a "complicated, cumbersome process."
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he does not want to pass an increase of the debt limit through reconciliation.