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Biden says filibuster carve out to suspend debt limit is a ‘possibility’ in race to avoid default 

President Joe Biden floated the idea on Tuesday of using a one-time change to Senate rules to prevent a Republican filibuster in order to suspend the debt limit.

It comes as Democrats scramble to find ways to avoid a historic debt default that could plunge the country into recession.

After traveling to Michigan during the day to hawk his $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and an even bigger spending plan, he returned to Washington and an impending debt crisis.

When asked whether he would consider the so-called nuclear option of a filibuster carve out, he said: ‘I think that’s a real possibility.’

The maneuver would allow Democrats to suspend the federal government’s $28.4 trillion borrowing cap without Republican votes. 

The federal government risks running out money by the middle of the month, according to several forecasts, if it cannot raise the debt limit and borrow more money. Failure risks undermining the pandemic recovery and triggering economic disaster.

However, Republicans have made clear that they will not offer any support and are pressuring Democrats to go it alone.  

President Biden told reporters on Tuesday that using a one-off change to Senate rules to prevent a Republican filibuster and suspend the debt ceiling was 'a real possibility'

President Biden told reporters on Tuesday that using a one-off change to Senate rules to prevent a Republican filibuster and suspend the debt ceiling was ‘a real possibility’

He spoke on the South Lawn of the White House after spending the day in Michigan where he tried to sell his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a bigger spending plan

 He spoke on the South Lawn of the White House after spending the day in Michigan where he tried to sell his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and a bigger spending plan

Using a carve out comes with risks. It would need total unity among the 50 senators who vote with the Democratic conference to get it done.

The idea was also raised during a closed-door caucus lunch on Tuesday.

Sen. Dick Durbin told The Hill that Democrats were now discussing a filibuster carve out.

‘There are discussions,’ he said.  

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen repeated her warnings of doom during the day. 

‘I totally expect it would cause a recession,’ she told CNBC about the impact of a default.

She has set a deadline of Oct. 18 to avert catastrophe. 

Democrats are due to try – and fail – for a third time to suspend the debt ceiling on Wednesday. 

Earlier the president landed in Lansing where he was greeted by Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin, who is facing a tough re-election fight next year.  Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist linked up with Biden on-site.

Biden visited a branch of the International Union of Operating Engineers in Howell, Michigan, the county seat of Livingston County, which chose former President Donald Trump over Biden by more than 20 points.

More than a thousand pro-Trump protesters lined the streets directly outside the union facility, with demonstrators holding up signs saying ‘Trump Won’, ‘Go Home Sleepy Joe’ and ‘unmask kids’ as he made his way from the airport to his event.  

Makes me smile, I get more pumped up,’ he said of the protesters after the event. 

Speaking to a small group of union members and lawmakers, Biden pitched his infrastructure plans as non-partisan. 

‘These bills are not about left versus right or moderate versus progressive or anything that pits Americans against one another,’ Biden said. ‘To oppose these investments is to be complicit in America’s decline,’ he said.   

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Howell, Michigan on Tuesday about his Build Back Better agenda

President Joe Biden delivers remarks in Howell, Michigan on Tuesday about his Build Back Better agenda

President Joe Biden is shown how simulators for heavy equipment work at the International Union of Operating Engineers Training Facility in Howell, Michigan on Tuesday, alongside Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

President Joe Biden is shown how simulators for heavy equipment work at the International Union of Operating Engineers Training Facility in Howell, Michigan on Tuesday, alongside Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer

President Joe Biden is shown a front-end lower simulator at the International Union of Operating Engineers Training Facility in Howell, Michigan on Tuesday before delivering remarks

President Joe Biden is shown a front-end lower simulator at the International Union of Operating Engineers Training Facility in Howell, Michigan on Tuesday before delivering remarks 

President Joe Biden was shown both vintage and modern heavy equipment on the second stop of his tour

President Joe Biden was shown both vintage and modern heavy equipment on the second stop of his tour 

President Joe Biden (right) hugs Rep. Elissa Slotkin (left) as he arrives in Lansing, Michigan Tuesday. Biden made the trip to pitch his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, along with the bigger reconciliation bill that includes a number of liberal goodies

President Joe Biden (right) hugs Rep. Elissa Slotkin (left) as he arrives in Lansing, Michigan Tuesday. Biden made the trip to pitch his $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, along with the bigger reconciliation bill that includes a number of liberal goodies  

The trip comes after Biden dashed progressives’ hopes telling them that the $3.5 trillion budget bill needed to be slashed by more than a trillion dollars. 

CBS News reported that the new pricetag for the ‘human instrastructure’ bill was to be between $1.9 and $2.2 trillion. A source told the network that the White House was open to means testing, though progressives have voiced that measuring eligibility for some programs could be burdensome for government workers – actually making them more expensive.    

Biden also met with a more moderate group of House members virtually Tuesday morning before departing the White House. 

Upon arriving in Howell, Biden made two stops inside the International Union of Operating Engineers Training Facility. 

He first was shown a number of simulators that teach people how to drive front-end loaders and fly drones.

‘You get up there and you feel like you own the world,’ Biden said, talking about heavy machine operators. 

Entering a larger room, that contained a vintage piece of equipment and a modern spider crane, Biden marveled to reporters, ‘I learned how to fly a drone!’ 

After his tour of the facility, Biden made his pitch about the bills. 

‘Every bit is paid for, by the way,’ the president said. ‘No deficit, every bit of it is paid for up front,’ he repeated. 

Slotkin made a similar point when she opened up for him. 

Biden warned that without infrastructure improvements, the U.S. would fall behind. 

‘We’ve taken our foot off the case. And the world has taken notice by the way,’ he said. 

He mentioned conversations with world leaders like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

‘They’re betting for the first time we won’t respond to this inflection point,’ Biden said. 

Biden called out Republicans for not playing ball. 

‘We haven’t passed a major infrastructure bill in decades in this country. It used to be a normal thing to do. It used to be a bipartisan thing to do,’ the president said. 

Biden (right) is visiting Slotkin's (left) district and will speak in Howell, the county seat of Livingston County, which chose former President Donald Trump over Biden by more than 20 points

Biden (right) is visiting Slotkin’s (left) district and will speak in Howell, the county seat of Livingston County, which chose former President Donald Trump over Biden by more than 20 points

Protesters lined the streets as Biden's motorcade drove from the airport to his first event

Protesters lined the streets as Biden’s motorcade drove from the airport to his first event 

The demonstrators held up signs saying 'Trump won' and 'Go Home Sleepy Joe' as he tried to sell his massive spending plan

The demonstrators held up signs saying ‘Trump won’ and ‘Go Home Sleepy Joe’ as he tried to sell his massive spending plan

One demonstrator compared Biden to Stalin and a youngster said unmask kids

Biden did have a small group of supporters there to greet him for his trip

One demonstrator compared Biden to Stalin and a youngster said unmask kids. Biden did have a small group of supporters there to greet him for his trip

The Trump supporters waved and recorded videos on their phones as the motorcade and press van went by

The Trump supporters waved and recorded videos on their phones as the motorcade and press van went by 

President Joe Biden departs for Michigan where he'll tout the two bills he wants Congress to pass - the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and a larger, budget bill that will include 'human infrastructure' programs

President Joe Biden departs for Michigan where he’ll tout the two bills he wants Congress to pass – the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package and a larger, budget bill that will include ‘human infrastructure’ programs

President Biden exits the Oval Office into the White House Rose Garden to head to Michigan to sell his infrastructure plan

President Biden exits the Oval Office into the White House Rose Garden to head to Michigan to sell his infrastructure plan

President Joe Biden salutes as he boards Air Force One for a trip to Howell, Michigan

President Joe Biden salutes as he boards Air Force One for a trip to Howell, Michigan 

The $3.5 trillion bill includes climate change provisions, universal pre-K, child care assistance, tuition-free community college, paid medical and family leave, the extension of the child tax credit and enhanced Medicare coverage.    

The pro-Trump protests were’t surprising as the county surrounding Howell went for the Republican president in 2020. Slotkin, however, represents the district, as it stretches over to parts of Lansing, the home of Michigan State. 

Biden brushed off a question about whether she was worried about winning re-election – hence the visit to her district. 

Slotkin is one of 17 House Democrats being targeted by ads funded by the National Republican Congressional Committee, linking her to Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and ‘$3 trillion in tax hikes.’ 

Previewing the trip Monday, Psaki said the trip would revolve around Biden pitching the two bills.   

He wants to go out there and talk about the components and the pieces of these bills that will make people’s lives better, even as we’re having very important conversation about the legislative logistics here,’ Psaki said. 

A Thursday night vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was stalled over a progressive threat to tank the bill. 

They used the tactic to try and get moderate support for the larger package, which was originally pitched as a $3.5 trillion investment. 

'People don't think of their roads as partisan, for good reason, nor do they think of their childcare is partisan,' said White House press secretary Jen Psaki when asked by Biden decided to go into Trump country to sell his two bills

‘People don’t think of their roads as partisan, for good reason, nor do they think of their childcare is partisan,’ said White House press secretary Jen Psaki when asked by Biden decided to go into Trump country to sell his two bills 

Besides being one of the three formerly Democratic states that Biden flipped back from Trump, Psaki said the president chose Michigan because it would ‘benefit greatly from both the bipartisan infrastructure package and the Build Back Better agenda.’  

‘Just to give you a couple of examples, Michiganders – I confirmed that is actually what people from Michigan call themselves … spent an extra 67 per cnet of their time commuting because of their need for updating infrastructure,’ Psaki said.  

‘Almost 10 per cent people in Michigan don’t have broadband access, that is really something that will help level the playing field for people, whether they’re in urban or rural communities,’ she continued. ‘Forty-four per cent of people in Michigan live in childcare deserts.’

‘These are all issues that are addressed by both of these packages,’ the press secretary added.  


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