News / USA

Obama Expects Congress to Raise Debt Ceiling Before Deadline

President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in the White House library in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
President Barack Obama speaks during an exclusive interview with The Associated Press in the White House library in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. President Barack Obama says he expects Congress to increase the country's borrowing limit before a mid-October deadline, ensuring that the United States does not default on its financial obligations.
 
With the U.S. government in the fifth day of a partial shutdown, it also faces running out of money to pay its bills on October 17, including interest on government bonds held by China, Japan and other overseas investors.
 
In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press released Saturday, Obama said he expects Congress will increase the country's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling so the United States can borrow more money.
 
"America has never not paid its bills, and I've said repeatedly that that's not something anybody should be threatening," he said. "The potential default of the United States, where we are essentially deadbeats, that's never happened."
 
Obama, a Democrat in his fifth year at the White House, is locked in a political stalemate with Republican opponents in Congress over government spending policies and implementation of his signature legislative achievement: wide-ranging health care changes that are now taking effect.

Willing to negotiate

The president said he is willing to negotiate changes to the health law and reduce spending, but not until Congress agrees to end the shutdown and raises the debt ceiling without conditions. Republicans opposed to the health care reforms are trying to end funding for or delay that program, which is commonly known in the U.S. as "Obamacare."
 
Opposition Republicans have insisted that they will only approve a spending bill to reopen the government if Obama and Democratic leaders agree to negotiations on the separate issue of the health care plan.
 
With Congress deadlocked, a lack of funds has halted or sharply curtailed a wide variety of government services.  All national parks, museums and the Library of Congress have been closed since Tuesday, and scientific research at the National Institutes of Health and the space agency, NASA, has been almost entirely suspended. These actions prompted government agencies to order about 800,000 federal workers on furlough status — sending them home without pay and barring them from remaining at their jobs, even voluntarily.

Military spending

U.S. military forces have not been directly affected by furloughs, although the Department of Defense sent home 400,000 civilian employees before recalling them to return to work next week. Some federal agencies and programs, such as the Voice of America, have been ordered to continue their work even with a portion of their workforce on furlough. Air traffic controllers, Border Patrol agents and many food inspectors also are still working.
 
Despite the focus on the funding shortage resulting from the stalemate in Congress, it now appears that all furloughed workers will eventually be paid for the time they spent at home, thanks to separate action making its way through Congress. Repaying hundreds of millions of dollars to employees whose wages were interrupted, however, is a much smaller issue than the dispute over the debt ceiling.
 
The U.S., with the world's biggest economy, has never defaulted — failed to pay its bills, in effect. Most analysts do not expect that will happen this time, either, but the uncertainty that currently prevails could cause substantial turmoil in world financial markets. A protracted congressional debate in 2011 over increasing the borrowing limit did not shut off government services, but it roiled international financial markets and noticeably slowed economic growth in the U.S.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.
x
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry gestures during a news conference at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali island Oct. 5, 2013.
Some fear that could occur again in the next two weeks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday he does not think that will happen, but he warned that a "prolonged or repeated" political crisis in Washington could weaken the U.S. globally.
 
Speaking at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum on the island of Bali in Indonesia, Kerry described the current government shutdown as "a momentary episode." The risk, he said, lies in how long the stalemate persists.
 
On Capitol Hill, Republicans who control the House of Representatives have offered to approve funding for individual agencies, but the U.S. Senate, controlled by Democrats, has insisted there must be overall funding legislation to reopen the entire government. The Republicans say they will not consider an overall budget unless that includes changes in the health care law, which was previously approved by both houses of Congress and ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
x
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden order lunch at Taylor Gourmet sandwich shop near the White House in Washington, Oct. 4, 2013.
Obama tried to highlight the impact on furloughed workers Friday by visiting a local sandwich shop that was offering discounts to out-of-work government employees. Before ordering lunch for himself and Vice President Joe Biden, Obama challenged House Speaker John Boehner to allow lawmakers to vote freely on a bill to reopen the government without conditions.

"This shutdown could be over today," he said. "We know there are the votes for it in the House of Representatives, and as I said [Thursday], if Speaker Boehner will simply allow that vote to take place, we can end this shutdown."
 
Democratic criticism has irked Boehner, who objected earlier Friday to a published report that framed the ongoing political struggle as a contest that one side or the other could win or lose.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.
x
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans, Oct. 4, 2013.
"This isn't some damn game," Boehner said. "The American people don't want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion and to bring fairness, reopen the government, and bring fairness to the American people under Obamacare."
 
Democrats in the House are considering using a parliamentary maneuver to try to force a vote on a funding bill to end the shutdown, but they can only succeed if some Republican representatives turn against their party leadership. Such a vote could not occur before October 14, three days before the U.S. must increase the borrowing limit.

Democrats in the House said they will use a parliamentary maneuver to try to force a vote on a funding bill to end the shutdown, but would need some Republican support to carry out the plan.  Such a vote could not occur before October 14, three days before the U.S. must increase the borrowing limit.

Compromise urged

Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
x
Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
Furloughed federal workers protest outside the U.S. Capitol to demand an end to the lockout of federal workers caused by the government shutdown October 4, 2013 in Washington, DC.
One analyst, University of Michigan business professor Erik Gordon, said he thinks both Obama and his Republican opponents will have to compromise on their policy goals if a default is to be avoided.
 
"I think at the last minute there will be some compromise, because neither side can afford to be seen by the public as being intransigent," he said. "So the Republicans will have to give up and say, 'Okay, we'll settle for fewer tax cuts than we asked for.' And the president is going to have to say, 'I'm going to make some bigger reductions [in spending] than I said I would make,' because neither side can afford to have the blame pinned on them. They will move together and learn to live with each other one more time."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

You May Like

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

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Mrs. Janett from: NJ
October 05, 2013 10:57 AM
Kerry is a warmonger and a member of BOHEMIAN GROVE!
     

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