Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) on Sunday said that although he understands Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) frustration with Republicans over their weeks-long standoff on the debt ceiling, he thinks the timing of Schumer’s fiery remarks on the floor shortly after 11 Republicans helped advance a two-month debt ceiling extension “may not have been the best.”
After 11 Republicans helped pass the extension on Thursday, Schumer took to the Senate floor to call out Republican lawmakers for playing the “dangerous and risky partisan game” of threatening to hold the debt ceiling hostage until Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made an offer that backed off of some of his demands.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is seen putting his face in his hands during Schumer’s speech. Manchin and several Republicans expressed anger over Schumer’s remarks afterward.
Asked about his thoughts on Schumer’s speech ticking off Republicans and Manchin, a key vote in the Senate, Coons first acknowledged that he understands where Schumer was coming from during an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
“Look, frankly, I agree with the reasons why Senator Schumer was so frustrated, that this standoff over the debt limit was risky, was unnecessary, was a manufactured crisis,” Coons said.
Coons said that Manchin had his head in his hands because “he thinks our leaders should be talking to each other directly.”
“And all of us agree that we need more civility in our Congress and our country. If we’re going to solve problems facing the American people, we have to be able to work together,” Coons said.
Coons reiterated that while he understands Schumer’s “deep frustration,” the timing of his remarks “may not have been the best.”
Following Schumer’s speech, Manchin, who is one of two centrist senators holding up Democrats’ progress in pushing their sweeping reconciliation bill forward, said that he “didn’t think it was appropriate at this time.”
“And we had a talk about that,” Manchin said. “I’m sure Chuck’s frustration was up, but that was not a way of taking it out.”
Senate Republican whip John Thune (R-SD) similarly criticized Schumer’s speech as “totally out of line.”
“I just thought it was an incredibly partisan speech after we had just helped him solve a problem. … I let him have it,” Thune said.
A day after Schumer’s floor remarks, McConnell warned President Biden in a letter that Republicans will refuse to help raise the debt ceiling later this year.
“Last night, Republicans filled the leadership vacuum that has troubled the Senate since January. I write to inform you that I will not provide such assistance again if your all-Democrat government drifts into another avoidable crisis,” McConnell wrote in the letter to Biden.