News / USA

Amid US Government Shutdown, Talk of Grand Fiscal Bargain Resurfaces

US House Speaker John Boehner walks to the House chamber on Capitol Hill, Oct. 3, 2013.
US House Speaker John Boehner walks to the House chamber on Capitol Hill, Oct. 3, 2013.
Michael Bowman
A shooting incident outside the U.S. Capitol building briefly halted deliberations in both houses of Congress Thursday.  When activity resumed, lawmakers remained far apart on a path to fund the U.S. government, which has been partially closed since Tuesday.

The political dynamic of the federal shutdown is unchanged.  Many Republican lawmakers want to restore government funding through negotiations that, presumably, would include Republican agenda items.  The president and Democratic lawmakers remain adamant that talks can go forward on any topic Republicans desire, but only after the government reopens.

Even so, a looming deadline for raising America’s debt ceiling is beginning to alter the debate.  Unless Congress increases the federal borrowing limit in the next two weeks, the nation risks a debt default and a credit downgrade.  Thus, even if the shutdown were to end this week, another potential fiscal crisis awaits.

Republican Senator Bob Corker says Congress should address both tasks at once - government funding and the debt limit.

“We have an opportunity over the next short period of time to put some good policy in place: to pass a CR [continuing resolution to fund the government], to pass the debt ceiling, and move our country ahead towards being stronger.  Let us put this behind us and move on as a nation," said Corker.

President Obama has been talking about the debt limit for weeks, and did so again in a speech Thursday.

“Even after Congress reopens your government, it is going to have to turn around very quickly and do something else: pay America’s bills," said President Obama.

Senator Corker urged swift negotiations between the president and congressional leaders of both parties on a large scale fiscal agreement - a so-called “grand bargain” - on spending, taxation and cost-saving reforms.  The Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, is said to have pressed for a grand bargain when congressional leaders met with the president late Wednesday.

The grand bargain is not a new idea.  This type of large-scale agreement was the goal of intensive negotiations two years ago that ultimately failed.  Today, Democrats like Senator Charles Schumer do not rule out a grand bargain, but they demand a restoration of government funding before any negotiations begin.

“Republicans have this exactly backwards," said Schumer. "They say, ‘Let us talk, and then maybe we will open the government.’  They ought to say, “We will open up the government, and then we can talk.’”

Republican Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart says a grand bargain would be a good thing, but he notes that Congress already is deadlocked on a much simpler task: funding the government.

“That [a grand bargain] would be a step in the right direction for the entire country.  But right now, we cannot even get baby steps," said  Diaz-Balart.

No one knows how long the federal shutdown will last.  But lawmakers expect the House and Senate to hold rare Saturday and Sunday sessions, suggesting that any possible breakthrough is at least several days away.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid