News / USA

Obama, Speaker of House Spar Over Funding Bills

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 5, 2013.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrives at the Capitol in Washington, Oct. 5, 2013.
Cindy Saine
There are no outward signs of progress in the U.S. budget battle, despite new calls from the White House for the congressional Republicans to pass a government funding bill without attaching any strings. President Barack Obama also wants the Republican-dominated House of Representatives to increase the government's borrowing ability.
 
On a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Monday, President Barack Obama challenged Republican House Speaker John Boehner to hold a vote quickly to fund the government.

"Let every member of Congress vote their conscience and they can determine whether or not they want to shut the government down," he said. "My suspicion is, my very strong suspicion, is that there are enough votes there."

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has rejected calls for a vote on a funding bill without conditions, saying the votes are not there. On Monday, Boehner went on the offensive on the debt ceiling, attacking President Obama.

"This morning a senior White House official said that the president would rather default than to sit down and negotiate," he said. "Really?"
 
House Democrats say they can produce votes from almost all of their 200 members in the House for a clean funding measure and from about 20 moderate Republicans who have said publicly that they disagree with the government shutdown.

The lack of a budget agreement has forced much of the U.S. government to shutdown, and more than 2 million workers are going unpaid.

Boehner has called Obama to "have a conversation" with him about the president's signature health care law and other issues before a vote is held to fund the government.  The White House and Senate Democrats say they are willing to discuss all kinds of issues, but not under the threat of prolonging the shutdown or refusing to raise the debt ceiling.

Political analysts caution that the coming debt ceiling fight could have much more serious consequences for the United States and the global economy. Boehner said Republicans want to tie budget cuts and other issues to any bill to increase the government's borrowing authority.

Ronald Fournier of the National Journal says the most conservative House Republican members have no incentive to compromise, because their districts are solidly Republican.  He said only massive outside pressure could change their minds.

"Once we get close to the debt ceiling and the stock market collapses, and people's 401Ks [retirement plans] are in danger, and maybe people start realizing that this is not just a joke, this is not just a game, this is our economy," he said. "It is possible that they will blink and pull back."

There are only 10 days to go until the debt ceiling deadline,and the shutdown is entering its second week.

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