House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney of misrepresenting her position on the debt ceiling, illustrating the lack of trust between key policymakers over an issue that could imperil the global economy later this year.
Mulvaney said that during a meeting Wednesday between congressional leaders and White House staff, Pelosi (D-Calif.) had insisted that she would increase the debt ceiling only if the Trump administration agreed to boost spending levels.
Asked to respond to this, Pelosi said Mulvaney had “no credibility” on the debt ceiling after his role in the 2011 and 2013 budget fights and had misrepresented her remarks.
“Do we have to waste time on Mike Mulvaney’s mischaracterization of my remarks?” she said. “We will never question the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”
The White House and congressional leaders are trying to broker a budget agreement to avoid a government shutdown in October. As a part of those talks, White House officials want Democrats to raise or suspend the government’s borrowing limit. Administration officials think that if it isn’t addressed by early fall, the government could fall behind in its payments, leading to a financial crisis.
Every few years, Congress flirts with defaulting on the national debt by not raising the self-imposed ceiling on how much the country can borrow. But spending continues to outpace that cap, requiring Congress to borrow more money to pay its bills.
“Mulvaney is one of the people who shut down government because they didn’t want to lift the debt ceiling, and so he has no credibility on the subject whatsoever,” Pelosi said. “I shouldn’t even be engaged in a conversation that has him mischaracterizing.”
As a House member, Mulvaney was among the Republicans who advocated against raising the debt limit and instead pushed for across-the-board spending cuts and even for a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced budget as a condition to raising the ceiling.
The brinkmanship over the debt ceiling in 2011 led to a downgrade in the U.S.’s credit rating for the first time.
“He was part of that,” Pelosi said.