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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid