News / USA

Fiscal Fights Snarl US Congress, Imperil Other Legislation

The sun rises over the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 24, 2013. (AP)
The sun rises over the Capitol in Washington, Sept. 24, 2013. (AP)
Michael Bowman
With no clear path to avoid a U.S. government shutdown October 1, U.S. congressional leaders already are bracing for the next fight: to raise the federal borrowing limit before the United States hits its debt ceiling in mid-October. While partisan fiscal battles risk economic damage, they also monopolize lawmakers’ time and push other congressional business to the side.

Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said the Republican-controlled House of Representatives should be working to reform America’s immigration system rather than engaging in damaging fights centered on President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“This body has not spent one minute on the floor in consideration of an immigration reform bill. Not one minute. A lot of time on nothing, nothing, nothing. We need to act on so many pressing national issues,” said Polis.

Frustration is not limited to Democrats. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said there are many issues that deserve Congress’ attention. “Tax reform. A constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. A farm bill.”

But with Congress already mired in a partisan fight to keep the government running, another battle is brewing. Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner said Republicans have conditions for raising the U.S. borrowing cap.

“We are going to introduce a plan that ties important spending cuts and pro-growth reforms to a debt-limit increase,” said Boehner.

Failure to hike the borrowing limit could trigger a default and another downgrade of U.S. creditworthiness. Boehner's announcement was immediately blasted by Democratic Senator Richard Durbin. “If they [House Republicans] stand by their position and do not give us a clean extension of the debt ceiling, the victims will include all employees across America.”

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney repeated President Obama’s refusal to negotiate on the debt ceiling.

The bottom line? Congress and the White House are focused on two fiscal battles that will extend well into next month. Even if a shutdown is averted, spending authority is only expected to be extended for two to three months, setting the stage for another spending showdown near the end of the year.

“It pushes everything off the table,” said political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. “The Congress has had a difficult time over the past few years raising the debt ceiling, dealing with budgets and spending, and keeping the government open. We are really going to have a legislative logjam here.”

One possible casualty is immigration reform. Conventional wisdom holds that Congress must act this year if reform is to succeed, since lawmakers will shy from casting politically-charged votes ahead of the 2014 mid-term elections.

Immigration reform advocate Frank Sharry wants prompt congressional action. “I think it is going to be critical that the House of Representatives begins to address this issue, has votes. I think it is critical that we see action this year.”

Sharry adds that fiscal battles, however, need not obliterate immigration reform.

“It is more a matter of political will than the calendar. It would only take two or three days for the House to consider a series of individual bills. We think there is going to be more than enough time in late October or November to have a couple of days of votes that will get this process moving towards final passage,” said Sharry.

For now, all eyes are on the Senate, which is expected to pass a temporary federal spending bill that funds the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” That measure would go back to the House, which voted last week to defund Obamacare.

Boehner said he is confident there will be no government shutdown October 1, but declined to predict what will happen to prevent it.

You May Like

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

Border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared their stories More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
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 Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to 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 Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
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 US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
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 Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
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.
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.

VOA Blogs