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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid