News / USA

Bill to Raise US Debt Ceiling Advances - For Now

Rep. Jason Chaffetz and other House Republicans react to passage of the conservative deficit reduction plan he sponsored known as 'Cut, Cap and Balance,' on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 19, 2011
Rep. Jason Chaffetz and other House Republicans react to passage of the conservative deficit reduction plan he sponsored known as 'Cut, Cap and Balance,' on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 19, 2011
Michael Bowman

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill tying an increase in the federal borrowing limit to deep spending cuts, limits on future spending, and a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. The Republican-sponsored measure is expected to fail in the Democratically-controlled Senate, leaving the United States without a clear path to deficit reduction as the clock ticks toward a possible default on America’s $14.3 trillion national debt.

The Cut, Cap, and Balance Act passed on a mostly party-line vote in the Republican-controlled chamber. The bill would cut non-defense federal spending, limit future spending to less than 20-percent of America’s gross domestic product, and require a constitutional mandate that the United States balance its books every year. It would extract significant savings from so-called entitlement programs that provide income and health care to retirees, but would not increase revenues.

In an era of massive federal deficits, ballooning national debt, and a stagnant economy, Republicans say strong medicine is required. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan:

“We cannot keep spending money we do not have," said Ryan. "Forty-two cents out of every dollar coming out of Washington is borrowed money, 47 percent of it from other countries, China number 1 [most of all]. Mr. Speaker, you cannot have sovereignty, self-determination as a country if we are relying on other governments to cash-flow [finance] half of our deficit.”

Democrats, like Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, said the measure would place the full burden of fiscal austerity on America’s poor and vulnerable.  

“What Cut, Cap, and Balance would really mean is slash, shred, and punish," said Yarmuth. "Slash the budget, shred the safety net, and punish American citizens who can least afford it. All while protecting the wealthiest, most successful [people].”

Most observers view the bill as an academic exercise designed to appease the ultra-conservative Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. The bill is highly unlikely to pass the Senate, and would face a presidential veto even if it did.

At the White House, President Barack Obama barely mentioned the Cut, Cap, and Balance Act, focusing instead on a new plan put forth by a bipartisan group of Senators, the so-called Gang of Six. The president hailed the plan’s inclusion of spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and tax provisions - what  Obama called a balanced approach to deficit reduction.

“We now have a bipartisan group of senators who agree with that balanced approach," said President Obama. "And we have got the American people, who agree with that balanced approach.”

The president urged congressional leaders to turn the plan into a bill that could be voted on as soon as possible, noting that the clock is ticking towards an August 2 deadline for raising the federal borrowing limit. Without action, the United States risks defaulting on its debt obligations.

Speaking with reporters, the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, would only say that the Gang of Six proposal merits consideration. On the Democratic side, Majority Leader Harry Reid praised the work done by the Gang of Six, but questioned whether enough time exists to enact the gang’s far-reaching proposal before August 2, given the often-cumbersome rules that govern Senate proceedings.

“I do not want to do anything to jeopardize the enthusiasm people have for the Gang of Six," said Reid. "But I understand what the rules of the Senate are.”

Senators Reid and McConnell have been working on a plan of their own that would allow President Obama to raise the debt ceiling in installments without majority votes in Congress. It is seen as a fallback plan in the event that debt negotiations fail. If enacted, it would avert the immediate threat of default, but would do little to fix America’s long-term fiscal woes.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
AppleAndroid