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Mnuchin ripped by House GOP on sales job for debt limit deal
[WASHINGTON] Conservative House Republicans hissed and groaned at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as he implored them to vote for a hurricane relief bill that includes a short-term extension of the federal debt limit.
Some Republicans, attending a closed-door meeting Friday, were infuriated by the sales pitch for the deal, especially when Mr Mnuchin told them to "vote for the debt ceiling for me," said Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina.
In an interview after the meeting, Representative Ted Yoho of Florida responded to Mr Mnuchin's comments by saying: "He's not one of my constituents!"
Representative Dave Brat of Virginia said: "The comments from the Treasury secretary today were not helpful. I found them to be intellectually insulting."
The House later in the morning passed the deal brokered by Democrats and President Donald Trump to suspend the debt limit, keep the government open through Dec 8 and provide US$15.25 billion in aid to flood victims in Texas and other parts of the Gulf coast.
The measure, already passed by the Senate, now goes to Mr Trump for his signature.
Republicans also laughed at White House budget director Mick Mulvaney during his presentation.
Several said it was ironic that Mr Mulvaney, who as a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus led several fights over the debt limit and pushed to shut down the government, pleaded with Republicans to pass the kind of measure he used to crusade against.
Representative Darrell Issa of California even joked in the meeting that more Freedom Caucus members should be hired by the Office of Management and Budget so that their views would change too.
Mr Walker said "it got a little warm in there for Mulvaney."
Republicans complained that Mr Mnuchin only took a few questions and didn't provide satisfactory responses.
"One of the questions was, 'What does the debt ceiling look like in December?' and he could not answer that question," said Mr Walker.
After the meeting, Mr Mnuchin left the building quickly, answering one question from a reporter as he departed, saying that he asked the House GOP to raise the debt ceiling.
At least one Republican defended Mr Mnuchin.
"I like his style," said Thomas Massie of Kentucky.
"He didn't put on any airs. There was no hidden agenda. He was what he was."