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Trump's morning targets: McConnell, Ryan, Obama, media

Trump's morning targets: McConnell, Ryan, Obama, media

Congress has until mid-October to raise legal borrowing limit
Trump's morning targets: McConnell, Ryan, Obama, media
President Donald Trump arrives at the White House in Washington on Aug. 23, 2017.
Photographer: Al Drago/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump started his day Thursday publicly criticizing leaders of his own party for not advancing his legislative agenda, which the president called “so easy.”

Trump said he asked Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Rep. Paul Ryan, the House speaker, to include language about the debt ceiling in a recent Department of Veterans Affairs bill.

“They didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval,” Trump said in a pair of Twitter posts.

Congress has until mid-October to raise the legal borrowing limit or the United States could risk defaulting on its debt obligations.

A White House official said Thursday that Trump was specifically referring to a bill to extend emergency funding to the multibillion-dollar Veterans Choice program, which pays for veterans to receive care from private doctors if they face long wait times or travel distances.

Congressional aides said Thursday that there had indeed been a short-lived effort late last month to tie the debt ceiling language to the Choice bill. But with the veterans’ program set to run out of money by mid-August, apparent opposition from conservative budget hard-liners and a congressional recesses looming, the idea was never given serious consideration.

The Choice legislation ultimately passed both the House and the Senate unanimously, shortly before each chamber began its summer recess. Trump signed it into law on Aug. 12.

McConnell said Monday that there was no chance Congress would fail to raise the debt ceiling by the end of September. The relationship between Trump and McConnell has been disintegrating over the summer and could jeopardize urgent legislation when Congress returns from its August recess. Trump has been publicly critical of McConnell for not being able to “repeal and replace” President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation. He repeated his criticism in another tweet Thursday: “The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed! That should NEVER have happened!”

Trump shifted his focus on Twitter briefly to the Obama administration on Thursday. The president shared a post from one of his supporters that was critical of Obama. In a sequence of four pictures, an image of Trump is shown moving in front of one of Obama. A caption reads, “THE BEST ECLIPSE EVER!”

And Trump called out Obama’s director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., who has publicly questioned whether Trump is fit to be president.

“I really question his ability to — his fitness to be in this office,” Clapper said on CNN this week.

On Twitter, Trump wrote, “James Clapper, who famously got caught lying to Congress, is now an authority on Donald Trump. Will he show you his beautiful letter to me?”

Trump also lashed out at “Fake News” Thursday for reports on the different styles of his recent public speeches.

“The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back to back speeches. Well, there was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally (enthusiastic, dynamic and fun) and the American Legion — V.A. (respectful and strong). Too bad the Dems have no one who can change tones!” Trump wrote.

Several news outlets, including The New York Times, wrote articles comparing his speaking style at recent appearances, including in Arizona at a campaign-style rally Tuesday and at an American Legion convention on Wednesday night.

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