News / USA

Amid Government Shutdown, US Lawmakers Point Fingers

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (L),  House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the House John Boehner, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Oct. 1, 2013.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (L), House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and Speaker of the House John Boehner, during a news conference on Capitol Hill, Oct. 1, 2013.
Michael Bowman
As a partial U.S. government shutdown nears a second day, the legislative breakdown that produced it shows no signs of repair. Members of Congress pointed fingers at one another Tuesday, and jockeyed to avoid blame for the suspension of federal operations.

Political brinksmanship ruled the day in Congress.  With lawmakers bracing for a popular backlash against the halt in government services, Republicans proposed piecemeal funding to reopen some of the nation’s most-popular federal entities.  Senator Ted Cruz urged emergency funds for national parks and the agency serving America’s veterans.

“We should reopen the national parks today.  We should fund the VA [Veterans Administration] today.  The only reason it might not happen is if Harry Reid and Democrats object.  I hope they do not," said Cruz.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected the Republican idea as “wacky.”  Fellow Democratic Senator Richard Durbin called it an outrage.

“Senator Cruz is going to pick and choose those departments of government that he wants to open.  To think that this senator has the nerve to try to decide what is really, really important for America," said Durbin.

By the end of the day, the piecemeal funding initiative had faltered.  But the episode forced Democrats into the uncomfortable position of opposing a limited reopening of the federal government, and aided Republican efforts to portray themselves as reasonable compromisers - and Democrats as hardline intransigents.

Those efforts began earlier in the day, when the Republican-led House voted to begin negotiations with the Senate on ending the government shutdown.  Republican Congressman Tom McClintock said that is how Congress is supposed to work.

“After the House and Senate have exercised their best judgment, they are then supposed to sit down and negotiate out their differences," said  McClintock.

Those differences center on President Barack Obama’s health care law, a major portion of which went into effect Tuesday.  Republicans have sought to defund or delay the Affordable Care Act, and many House Republicans refuse to vote to fund the government absent provisions eroding the law, also known as Obamacare.

Senate Democrats said they would welcome bicameral conferences, but not during a government shutdown.  Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“We [Senate Democrats] are happy to go to conference.  But only if the government is reopened," said Reid.

Reid called on the House to pass a funding bill free of political stipulations.  House Speaker John Boehner had this response:

“My goodness, they [Democrats] will not even sit down and have a discussion about this," said Boehner.

Democrats accuse Republicans of holding government funding hostage to their political agenda and say they will not reward that behavior.

Initial polling shows the American people more apt to blame Republicans than Democrats or President Obama for the government shutdown.  Republicans want to change the perception of culpability. Democrats are banking on it continuing and forcing a resolution of the impasse on their terms.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid