White House press corps file formal complaint after Biden aides shout over attempts to ask questions

U.S. President Joe Biden has landed himself in hot water with the mainstream media following his refusal to take questions from the White House press pool during a sit-down with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week. The press pool filed a formal complaint against the Democrat president for refusing to answer questions about the multiple crises that have plagued his administration since he took office in January.

Biden’s meeting with Johnson in the Oval Office is the first time the two heads of state have had a formal meeting following Biden’s disastrous pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The decision received widespread condemnation in the British Parliament, which criticized Biden for his decision to blame America’s erstwhile Afghan allies for much of the catastrophe, instead of taking responsibility.

Attempts by members of the press to ask Biden questions about the ongoing crisis at the U.S. southern border and others were reportedly shot down by White House aides, who drowned out journalists by shouting over them.

“[President] Biden and British PM [Boris Johnson] meet to discuss pandemic, trade and other issues,” wrote CBS News reporter Ed O’Keefe. “Johnson took 3 questions. White House aides shouted down U.S. attempts to ask questions. I asked Biden about southern border and we couldn’t decipher what he said.”

White House Correspondents’ Association President Steven Portnoy said in a statement that the news organization has filed a formal complaint with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki over the incident. 

“The entire editorial component of the U.S. pool went immediately into Jen Psaki’s office to register a formal complaint that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office, and that wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer to Ed O’Keefe’s question about the situation at the Southern Border,” the statement said. “Biden’s answer could not be heard over the shouting.”

“Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred, and suggested that she was not in a position to offer an immediate solution,” the statement added.

Portnoy has called for Biden to hold a formal press conference to make up for his continued refusal to cater to the press, which has become a regular issue. Psaki responded to the statement by claiming that Biden “takes questions several times a week.” 

As detailed by the Daily Wire, numerous journalists have chimed in to express their anger over Biden’s tightlipped stance and refusal to engage with the media as the country faces multiple crises, ranging from an influx of illegal immigrants at the southern border, to record-high unemployment, and the ongoing pandemic.

  • Ashley Parker, the Washington Post: “Worth noting that Biden ran for office promising to restore democracy after 4 years of Trump. But today it was the British leader, NOT the American one, who spotlighted a key tenet of a flourishing democracy — respect for a free press — by taking questions from his press corps.”
  • Stephen Miller, the Spectator: “Joe Biden has not taken or answered a single question regarding the border, FDA boosters getting shot down and the drone strike that killed 7 kids. His aides shout down reporters and herds them out of rooms, and the press complies with them.”
  • Jennifer Jacobs, Bloomberg News: “Biden aides shouted over the president in the Oval Office, trying to prevent a back-and-forth between @POTUS and the press corps.”
  • Andrew Restuccia, the Wall Street Journal: “A chaotic scene in the Oval Office today as Boris Johnson unexpectedly took questions from British reporters, and White House aides shouted over American reporters as we tried to ask Biden questions.”
  • Darren Grimes, GB News: “Boris Johnson took two questions from the British press, President Biden refused to take any, domestic or international. I can well imagine the headlines if Trump did the same, he’d be decried as an ‘authoritarian’, a ‘fascist dictator’ evading scrutiny.





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House Democrats Use Obscure Rule to Stifle GOP’s Kabul Probe, Say GOP Reps

House Rules Committee Democrats quietly extended a rule earlier this week in the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that effectively bars Republicans from obtaining information on President Joe Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, say GOP representatives.

The provision was adopted during the Rules panel’s Sept. 20 hearing on the defense bill, and it includes a continuing resolution on spending and a measure designed to nullify state laws limiting abortion access at any time during a pregnancy.

The provision, which has been extended by Democrats multiple times since the original adoption, reads as follows:

“24. Provides that House Resolution 188, agreed to March 8, 2021 (as most recently amended by H. Res. 555, agreed to July 27, 2021), is amended by striking ‘September 22, 2021’ each place it appears and inserting (in each instance) ‘October 27, 2021.’”

The provision continues one of the chief tools House Democrats have used in the rules adopted in January for the 117th Congress to frustrate the ability of Republicans to demand and receive information from the Biden White House and the executive branch using the resolution of inquiry (ROI).

The wording of ROIs “will vary depending on the person to whom the resolution is directed. The House traditionally ‘requests’ the President and ‘directs’ the heads of executive departments to furnish information,” according to the House parliamentary procedures manual.

The Rules panel’s action comes as Republicans on the House Foreign Relations Committee seek an investigation of the administration’s actions in the Afghanistan withdrawal.

The ROI is an effective investigative tool because it puts the authority of a congressional committee behind a legislative request rather than causing representatives of the minority party to rely on letters and telephone calls seeking needed information and data.

It’s much more difficult for executive branch officials to ignore a request backed by an ROI, while telephone calls aren’t returned and letters from lawmakers are easily and often ignored.

The ROI is also more difficult for the majority to defeat because House rules require such a measure to be marked up within two weeks of its introduction or it becomes a privileged motion for the whole House. If the resolution is approved, the ROI then becomes a request of the House, not just a committee.

Rules committee member Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) offered a motion on Sept. 21 to end the ROI ban, saying that “in light of President Biden’s failed Afghanistan withdrawal and evacuation, it is absolutely imperative that we restore this tool to get to the bottom of this administration’s avoidable debacle.”

Reschenthaler said he was “concerned that the majority maintains this provision simply to shield the administration from addressing the very real concerns that members on both sides of the aisle have” on the Afghanistan situation.

Rules member Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), spoke in favor of Reschenthaler’s motion, telling the panel the ROI ban should be terminated because “we can’t get phone calls answered from the administrative state. This is not right and it needs to change. … I urge the majority to restore minority rights” under the ROI process.

Burgess also seeks the passage of an ROI concerning the Biden administration’s treatment of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children coming across the U.S. border from Mexico.

Reschenthaler’s motion was defeated 9–4, marking the fifth time Democrats, led by Committee Chairman Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), have rejected efforts to restore ROIs. ROIs were first adopted in 1879.

A spokesman for the Rules panel majority didn’t immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

During debate on a previous attempt, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the panel’s ranking Republican, said: “The speaker and the Democratic majority have ruled with an iron fist, beginning in earnest at the start of the 117th Congress. In one fell swoop, they eliminated two critical minority tools, motions to recommit and the use of resolutions of inquiry.”

Besides the ROI, Cole was referring to limits during the 117th Congress on the minority’s ability on the House floor to offer motions to recommit bills to committees with instructions to change them rather than having votes on final passage.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Foreign Relations Committee, told The Epoch Times the ROI ban has prevented effective legislative oversight on multiple issues.

“Democratic Leadership has suspended a centuries-old House rule that allows for more congressional oversight—all to protect President Biden from scrutiny for the multiple disasters his failed leadership has caused,” McCaul said.

“Whether it’s the deadly catastrophe in Afghanistan or the crisis at our southern border, the American people expect Congress to hold the Executive Branch accountable for their mistakes. The majority needs to lift this indefinite ban on resolutions of inquiry and allow for vigorous oversight.”

Republicans on the foreign relations panel have been frustrated by having to depend on letters to gain needed oversight information on the Biden administration’s lax administration of congressionally mandated sanctions against, for example, Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Europe.

The Biden administration didn’t answer questions posed by House Republicans in a March 5 letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Questions also went unanswered from an April 22 letter from McCaul to Blinken concerning Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal.

In the April letter, McCaul predicted the withdrawal would “hand the Taliban an undeserved victory, damage U.S. credibility as a counterterrorism partner, and gravely endanger the lives of Americans and Afghans alike.”

Mark Tapscott

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White House Reporters File ‘Formal Complaint’ Against Biden After Aides Shout Them out of Oval Office

The White House press pool has filed a formal complaint against President Joe Biden after he wouldn’t answer questions about contentious topics while he met with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the Oval Office on Sept. 21.

During the meeting, Biden and Johnson discussed trade, the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S.–UK–Australia nuclear submarine deal that angered the French government, and several other topics. Johnson took a few questions and was finishing his response to a reporter’s inquiry when White House staffers told reporters to leave the room, cutting the prime minister off, video footage of the incident shows.

Before the interruption, Johnson said, “Would it be OK if we had a couple of questions? Just a couple?” Biden then responded: “Good luck.”

As aides shouted and media members left the room, Biden, who was wearing a mask, sat in his chair for several seconds before making a motion with his hand. Johnson, who was also wearing a mask, rapidly scanned the room amid the yelling.

“That’s absurd,” one reporter said as they left. “Two British reporters get questions, and we don’t get anything.”

White House pool reporter Steven Portnoy said the press pool has filed a formal complaint with press secretary Jen Psaki.

“The entire editorial component of the U.S. pool went immediately into Jen Psaki’s office to register a formal complaint that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office, and that wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer to Ed O’Keefe’s question about the situation at the southern border,” Portnoy, the head of the White House Correspondents’ Association, wrote. “Biden’s answer could not be heard over the shouting.

“Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred, and suggested that she was not in position to offer an immediate solution. Your pooler requested a press conference. Psaki suggested the president takes questions several times a week.”

Ed O’Keefe of CBS News said he couldn’t hear Biden’s answer to his question about the U.S.–Mexico border crisis, due to White House aides shouting them down along with Biden’s muffled response due to his mask. White House aides also appeared to cut off Johnson’s response by shouting and telling everyone to leave the Oval Office, he said.

The White House press office didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

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White House aides shout down questions during Joe Biden-Boris Johnson meeting

White House aides late Tuesday shouted down reporters’ questions to President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during an Oval Office meeting, leaving the president’s answer to an immigration question undecipherable.  

The pool of reporters covering the event immediately filed a formal complaint with White House press secretary Jen Psaki’s office.

The two world leaders had met at the White House to discuss trade, the Afghanistan exit, COVID-19 and other issues.

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Biden did not engage in the traditional post-meeting press conference that U.S. presidents traditionally have with visiting world leaders. Instead, they briefly met with reporters before the meeting.

While Mr. Biden opted to tell a lengthy story about how many miles he has traveled on Amtrak, Mr. Johnson suggested they take questions from the press.

The prime minister called on a British reporter who asked about a United Kingdom criminal case involving a U.S. official claiming diplomatic immunity. A second British reporter posed a question to Mr. Johnson.

When it was time for U.S. reporters to ask questions, White House aides shouted over them and rushed them out of the Oval Office.

White House aides shouted down U.S. attempts to ask questions,” CBS reporter Ed O’Keefe tweeted. “I asked Biden about the southern border and we couldn’t decipher what he said.”

Mr. O’Keefe later said it appeared that Mr. Biden said: “Violence is not justified.”

“As we were leaving, I asked the president for his reaction to the situation on the southern border. Due to shouting by White House aides, the noise of everyone leaving the president wearing his mask, we could not make out his answer,” he said in a second tweet.

Other reporters also griped on Twitter, and British journalist Pippa Crerar chimed in, saying the shouting was “totally out of order.”

“An unwelcome lack of accountability,” she tweeted.

In a statement, White House Correspondents Association President Steven Portnoy, a CBS News reporter, confirmed that the press pool spoke with Ms. Psaki about the incident.

“Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred and suggested that she was not in position to offer an immediate solution. Your pooler requested a press conference. Psaki suggested the president takes questions several times a week,” Mr. Portnoy said. 

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White House Reporters File Formal Complaint Against Biden – RedState

We reported last night on the bedlam that erupted while Joe Biden was meeting with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Johnson took three questions from the press. As Johnson was finishing his remarks, the Biden staff literally cut him off mid-sentence as they began shouting at the press to get out of the room in an amazing display.

Now, it could have been because Joe looked like he was about to nod off. But they’ve also just been cutting off the press and rushing them out of the room so he can’t answer any questions as a regular thing to protect him from gaffing. Amazingly, CBS’s Ed O’Keefe did get in a question about the border and because of the shouting, he couldn’t hear what was said. But he said he listened to it later. He claimed Biden said, “Violence is not justified.”

Now comes the word that the White House press pool was furious with how they were treated and immediately marched into White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s office and lodged a formal complaint, according to White House Correspondents’ Association President Steven Portnoy.

From Daily Wire:

“The entire editorial component of the U.S. pool went immediately into Jen Psaki’s office to register a formal complaint that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office, and that wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer to Ed O’Keefe’s question about the situation at the Southern Border,” the statement said. “Biden’s answer could not be heard over the shouting.”

“Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred, and suggested that she was not in a position to offer an immediate solution,” the statement continued.

Portnoy requested that Biden hold a formal press conference as a makeup for continuing to ignore reporters’ questions, which is a common occurrence from Biden, and Psaki responded by claiming that Biden “takes questions several times a week.”

What did they expect was going to happen? This was the same guy who blew them off completely during the campaign and hid in his basement. Biden has blown them off for days, since last week without answering any real question.

The reporters never really appreciated how good they had it with President Donald Trump who was always answering their questions. This guy hasn’t answered questions in days, even hiding out at the beach, while there are major disasters and scandals blowing up all around him.

Psaki’s response is indicative of the disdain the Biden people feel for the reporters — basically, a “We can treat them like dirt and they will take it, coming back for more” attitude. They know the reporters basically politically support them, so they don’t fear any repercussions about their actions.

What a thought. Maybe actually do your job and hold Biden to account. Report on the constant gaffes, incoherence, and incompetence. Don’t be treated like dirt and stand for it. Ask why the Biden folks are doing this and what they don’t want you to see.





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House Passes Bill to Send Payments to Victims of Likely Directed Energy Attacks

The House on Sept. 21 unanimously passed a bipartisan measure that would authorize payments to victims of likely directed energy attacks, also known as the Havana syndrome.

The legislation, titled Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks (HAVANA) Act, and led by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), was approved by a 427–0 vote. It was first passed by the Senate on June 7, and measure now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

It specifically authorizes the CIA director, the secretary of state, and other agency heads to provide medical and financial help to the victims who have suffered brain injuries as a result of the attacks.

It also requires that the CIA and State Department report to Congress on how the funds are being used and if additional “legislative or administrative action is required.”

U.S. authorities have struggled to understand the mysterious attacks since they were first noted in 2016, when diplomatic and intelligence personnel in communist Cuba first began reporting disturbing symptoms, including head pressure or vibration, and dizziness, sometimes followed by visual problems and cognitive difficulties.

The update comes shortly after The New York Times reported that a CIA officer who was travelling to India this month with the agency’s director reported symptoms consistent with Havana syndrome.

The Epoch Times has contacted the CIA for comment on the reported incident.

Roughly 200 U.S. officials and family members have so far been sickened by the attacks, according to Reuters.

“There is no doubt that the victims who have suffered brain injuries must be provided with adequate care and compensation. Further, it is critical that our government determine who is behind these attacks and that we respond,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement earlier this year.

A State Department-sponsored study into the phenomenon by the National Academy of Sciences investigated whether chemical exposure, infectious diseases, and psychological issues could have been behind the symptoms, but concluded that the most likely cause was directed microwave energy.

“Overall, directed pulsed RF (radio frequency) energy, especially in those with the distinct early manifestations, appears to be the most plausible mechanism in explaining these cases among those that the committee considered,” the report on the study stated.

Ivan Pentchoukov contributed to this report.

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Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master’s in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.



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Border Patrol Official Says White House Is Perpetuating False Narrative Amid Reports of Haitian Migrants Being ‘Whipped’

A top Border Patrol official has accused Jen Psaki and the White House of “perpetuating the narrative that police are bad” and pushing incorrect information after the press secretary responded to reports that border agents in Del Rio have been “whipping” Haitian migrants who’ve gathered there in recent days.

Speaking to The Epoch Times, Border Patrol agent and head of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, said agents on horseback in the area have not been rounding up Haitian refugees with whips after they were accused of doing so by multiple media outlets and officials.

On Monday, Sawyer Hackett, executive director of People First Future, a political action committee set up by Democrat Julián Castro, went viral on Twitter when he shared photos of border patrol agents on horseback as they held their “whips” while Haitian refugees stood near them on foot.

Hackett wrote on Twitter, “This is unfathomable cruelty towards people fleeing disaster and political ruin. The administration must stop this.”

He also shared video footage showing border agents on horseback attempting to prevent migrants from wading back and forth across a river.

The post was quickly shared over 27,000 times, including by members of Congress Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Senator Jeff Merkley.

A report from the El Paso Times regarding the situation in Del Rio also went viral. An exert from it claims a border agent “swung his whip menacingly” at Haitian men who were trying to cross the river again after buying food and water in Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.

Illegal immigrants cross the Rio Grande between Del Rio (far side) and Acuna, Mexico. Some are crossing back to Mexico to avoid deportation from the United States, in Acuna, Mexico, on Sept. 20, 2021. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)
Epoch Times Photo
Illegal migrants cross the Rio Grande River near a temporary migrant camp under the international bridge on Sept. 18, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. (Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images)

“That’s your ‘defund the police’ movement right there,” Judd said of the video. “They only show a short segment of a video. The horse patrol agents under the administration are trained to ensure the safety of the migrants, to keep them away from the horses, because the horses can harm people—they can inadvertently step on them, they can rear up, they can kick them.

“And so agents have to keep the migrants away from the horses for their own protection. And so they will use the reins, to twirl the reins, so that they will stay away from the horses. But they do not use those reins to lash out, to try to strike people. Those agents did not use those reins in any way, shape, or form to try to strike anybody.”

Judd added that the horses are also used as a “deterrent technique” to prevent illegal immigrants from coming into the United States.

The claims of whipping soon reached the White House, with press secretary Jen Psaki telling reporters during a briefing Monday, that she had seen some of the footage but didn’t yet have all the context.

“I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” Psaki said. “But I don’t have additional details.”

When asked if the agents who were accused of whipping the Haitian immigrants should be fired, Psaki responded, “And, certainly—I don’t have additional context.  I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”

Judd says Psaki ‘s comments were “horrific” and only serve to perpetuate the narrative that law enforcement is bad. “And that just feeds into the larger, very liberal, narrative of defund the police,” he said.

The head of the National Border Patrol Council said his agents also feel abandoned by the administration, noting that the Haitian camp has turned into a “warzone refugee camp” and pointing out a key difference between former President Donald Trump’s administration and the current Biden administration.

“They [border patrol agents] have been abandoned by the administration. I mean, I get that all the time. My agents are constantly reaching out to me asking, ‘Why isn’t this administration standing up and doing something to secure the border?’ ‘Why is this administration allowing cartels to have free rein of the border?’ ‘Why is this administration [doing nothing] when they said that they were going to have humane immigration practices? I don’t know,” Judd said.

“You tell me, does this look like it’s humane right here?” he asked standing in front of the Haitian camp.

“This looks like a warzone refugee camp. That’s what this looks like. And if anybody says that this is humane, I would love for them to come and explain to me how this, right here, is humane. But this is the Biden administration. This never happened with the Trump administration.”

Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.

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Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She covers news and business for The Epoch Times, focusing primarily on the United States.





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Watch: White House boots media out of Oval Office without allowing U.S. journalists to ask questions

As President Joe Biden met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday, White House aides abruptly kicked reporters out without allowing any American journalists to ask questions, prompting the editorial component of the U.S. press pool to lodge a complaint.

President Biden responded to questions from two reporters Johnson called on, and Johnson also made remarks after Biden’s responses. But at one point, even as the British leader still seemed to be speaking, a clamor of voices pipes up.

Reporters were shooed out of the room, which did not sit well with American journalists.

Steve Herman of VOA tweeted: “US @WhiteHouse press pool immediately protests Oval Office treatment. (This dispatch from radio pooler and @whca president @stevenportnoy.)”

Herman attached the dispatch, which he said was from White House Correspondents’ Association President Steven Portnoy:

“The entire editorial component of the US pool went immediately into Jen Psaki’s office to register a formal complaint that no American reporters were recognized for questions in the president’s Oval Office, and that wranglers loudly shouted over the president as he seemed to give an answer to Ed O’Keefe’s question about the situation at the Southern Border. Biden’s answer could not be heard over the shouting. Psaki was unaware that the incident had occurred, and suggested that she was not in position to offer an immediate solution. Your pooler requested a press conference. Psaki suggested the president takes questions several times a week,” the dispatch stated.

CBS News’s Ed O’Keefe tweeted that he could not discern Biden’s response to a question he asked as the media were being ushered out, but later noted that part of Biden’s response had been determined.

“As we were leaving, I asked the president for his reaction to the situation on the southern border. Due to shouting by White House aides, the noise of everyone leaving, and the president wearing his mask, we could not make out his answer,” CBS News’s Ed O’Keefe tweeted. He later tweeted: “UPDATE: We have played back the tape and part of the president’s answer is decipherable. I asked for his response to the situation on the southern border and he says in part, “Violence is not justified.” He is wearing a mask and there is shouting so nothing else is decipherable”

“A chaotic scene in the Oval Office today as Boris Johnson unexpectedly took questions from British reporters, and White House aides shouted over American reporters as we tried to ask Biden questions,” tweeted Andrew Restuccia of the Wall Street Journal.

“UK PM Johnson called on 2 British reporters to ask questions during the Oval meeting today. Biden answered those Qs, but didn’t call on any US reporters. WH aides then began shouting over reporters asking Qs to get press out of the room, preventing any Q&A w/ US press,” CNN’s Jeremy Diamond tweeted.


President Biden hosts Britsh Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the White House

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House Passes Stopgap Bill to Avert Government Shutdown, Suspend Debt Limit

The House of Representatives voted late Tuesday to pass a bill that would avert a government shutdown and fund it through Dec. 3, as well as suspend the debt limit until after the 2022 election.

The 220–211 vote in the Democrat-majority chamber was on party lines. The bill now faces a tough hurdle in the Senate, where Republicans have said they would mount a filibuster.

Congress must pass a funding plan by Sept. 30 to avert a government shutdown or U.S. default. The bill would, if passed, keep the government open through Dec. 3 and suspend the debt limit through Dec. 16, 2022.

The extra time will allow lawmakers to negotiate on the budget for the coming year.

While the measure’s highest priority is to prevent a shutdown, it will also provide billions in new spending for disaster relief and to assist Afghanistan evacuees.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday announced in a joint statement that they would combine both short-term government funding measures and the suspension of the U.S. debt limit in one bill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed to block an increase in the $28.4 trillion debt ceiling and said that Democrats, the majority party, must raise the debt ceiling themselves.

Republican members of Congress have said that by raising the debt limit, Democrats would then use the funds to pay for massive spending packages, including the $3.5 trillion measure.

On Tuesday, McConnell said: “I want to repeat once again: America must never default. We never have and we never will.”

He also reiterated that it is the majority party’s responsibility to raise the debt ceiling. That would have the effect of letting Republicans avoid voting for a debt limit increase ahead of next year’s congressional elections.

Republicans have said Democrats could raise the debt limit on their own through reconciliation, a special parliamentary procedure that would expedite the passage of a budgetary measure through the Senate, bypassing the chamber’s rule that 60 out of its 100 members must approve legislation. But Democrats have resisted doing that so far, saying the vote to raise the debt limit should be a bipartisan one.

“Playing games with the debt ceiling is playing with fire and putting it on the back of the American people,” Schumer said in a speech.

Republicans have expressed that they would support a bill to avert a shutdown only if the debt limit extension was omitted.

The current debt ceiling has already been breached, with debt at $28.78 trillion. It is being temporarily financed through the Treasury Department’s “extraordinary measures,” which it expects will be exhausted by October.

Jack Phillips and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Mimi Nguyen Ly is a reporter based in Australia. She covers world news with a focus on U.S. news. Contact her at mimi.nl[at]epochtimes.com.



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House passes bill to avoid government shutdown, suspend debt cap

House Democrats forced through a short-term funding measure Tuesday to keep the government afloat and prevent a default on U.S. debts, setting up a standoff with Senate Republicans.

In a 220-211 party-line vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi secured passage of the bill after tying it to disaster aid and increased funding for Afghan refugees resettlement.

“It is essential that we keep the government open,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat.

As part of the package, House Democrats are seeking to fund the government through Dec. 3. Federal funding is officially set to run out Sept. 30, the deadline to pass an annual budget, which Congress will miss again this year.

Mrs. Pelosi’s bill also suspends the federal debt-ceiling until December 2022. Democrats say that suspending the cap on how much the government can borrow to pay for federal expenditures, like bureaucratic salaries and Social Security, is needed to prevent the economy from cratering.

“Our country will suffer greatly if we do not act now to stave off this unnecessary and preventable crisis,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat.

Despite passing the House, the stop-gap funding bill faces longs odds in the Senate because of Mrs. Pelosi’s insistence on including the debt-ceiling suspension.

Republicans have ruled out providing the votes necessary to ensure any debt-ceiling hike overcomes the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell argued that if Democrats were content to pass a $3.5 trillion spending bill on party-line votes, they should also be responsible for raising the debt ceiling to make that spending possible.

“What we’re not prepared to do is to relieve the Democratic president, the Democratic House and Senate from their governing obligation to address the deficit,” said Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

GOP lawmakers are urging Democrats to deal with the debt ceiling using budget reconciliation.

The process, which Democrats are using to pass Mr. Biden’s $3.5 trillion package, allows some spending and tax measures to avoid a filibuster and pass with a simple majority of 51 votes, including the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Kamala D. Harris.

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, claims the tactics amount to “playing with fire.”

Republicans, though, are not sold on the need to bail out Democrats on the debt-ceiling. At the moment only four GOP senators are seen as likely to back the Democratic bill.

Two of those Republican lawmakers, Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, hail from Louisiana, which was hit hard by Hurricane Ida earlier this month. Mr. Kennedy has already signaled that he will back the bill because of the disaster aid.

“I need the help,” Mr. Kennedy said. “My people, I mean those in Southwest Louisiana … got hit with one of the most powerful storms that we’ve ever experienced.”

The majority of Republicans, however, are opposing the Democrats’ gambit. Even moderates, like Sen. Mitt Romney, are lining up behind Mr. McConnell and GOP leadership on the issue.

“They don’t want a single Republican vote on spending measures, but they think we should have to raise the debt limit for them,” said Mr. Romney, Utah Republican. “The Democrats could solve that problem all by themselves. They have the House, the Senate and the White House.”

Given that the Senate is split evenly between both parties, Democrats are unlikely to find the 10 GOP votes necessary to overcome a filibuster.

Despite the reality, Democrats are unwilling to entertain the idea as it would for them to specify a new, higher ceiling. Many, especially vulnerable Democrats already facing tough reelection bids, don’t want to be on record for raising the federal debt cap above the current limit of $28.5 trillion.

“We can do it through reconciliation. Leadership has said they don’t want to do that,” said House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, Kentucky Democrat, on MSNBC. “The reason is if we do that through reconciliation, we actually have to specify a number.”

With Democrats unwilling to act unilaterally and Republicans not ready to compromise, a government shutdown and possible default on U.S. debts appear increasingly likely.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned that Congress must raise the debt ceiling by mid-October for the government to continue paying its bills.

“We have learned from past debt limit impasses that waiting until the last minute to suspend or increase the debt limit can cause serious harm to business and consumer confidence, raise short-term borrowing costs for taxpayers, and negatively impact the credit rating of the United States,” Ms. Yellen wrote in a letter to congressional leaders.

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