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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs