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

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid