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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs