News / USA

Returning US Lawmakers Face Debt Ceiling, Immigration Challenges

Returning US Lawmakers Face Debt Ceiling, Immigrationi
X
January 04, 2014 1:15 PM
Statistics show that last year’s session of Congress was the least productive in history, with the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives far apart on most critical issues. Now, lawmakers are heading back to Capitol Hill for a fresh start in 2014, with plenty of unfinished business to take care of, including passing a Farm Bill, raising the debt ceiling and dealing with immigration reform. VOA’s Congressional Correspondent Cindy Saine looks at some of the challenges ahead.
Cindy Saine
Statistics show that last year’s session of Congress was the least productive in history, with the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House of Representatives far apart on most critical issues. Now, lawmakers are heading back to Capitol Hill for a fresh start in 2014, with plenty of unfinished business to take care of, including passing a Farm Bill, raising the debt ceiling and dealing with immigration reform.

Activists for immigration reform, like these hunger strikers, are likely to keep the pressure on the House of Representatives to take up the issue. The Senate passed a wide-reaching immigration reform bill last year. House Speaker John Boehner said he realizes reform is necessary.  “The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time. I think doing so will give the American people confidence that we’re dealing with these issues in a thoughtful way and a deliberative way,” he said.

Some analysts say Boehner may bring the issue to the floor after Republican primaries are finished in May or June ahead of congressional elections in November. But most agree that immigration reform carries political risks for Boehner.

“It is not clear that he would go far enough to attract Democratic support, and if he goes very far, he would probably lose a lot of his conservative base. So nothing is guaranteed there,” said Thomas Mann, Brookings Institution.

Mann explained that on a number of key issues, Boehner is constrained by the conservative Tea Party wing of his own Republican party. "I think he will push back a little more this Congress. But the fact is, he has got a very conservative base. It is not just a handful of Tea Party members. The center of gravity in his party has moved far to the right since Barack Obama became president,” he added.

Other analysts say there is plenty of blame to go around for a lack of action in Washington.

"Well, I put the blame on the president for not being able to reach out and build coalitions, but it's very hard to build those coalitions because of the nature of the House right now. I put blame on the Republicans because they're not willing to reach out either. And many of them are quite ideological," stated James Thurber of American University.

A crucial test for the new legislative year is likely to come in February or March, when Congress will need to raise U.S. borrowing authority so the country does not default on its debt.

In his final news conference of the year, President Obama issued a warning to Republicans in Congress not to try to use the debt ceiling to force more spending cuts:

"The debt ceiling is raised simply to pay bills that we have already accrued. It is not something that is a negotiating tool. It's not leverage. It's the responsibility of Congress," said Obama.

Most analysts say another high-stakes showdown, like the one that led to a partial government shutdown in October, could hurt the economy and both sides at the polls.

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Great North (Canada)
January 05, 2014 3:22 PM
Blaming the President, for a policy that has not been defined, nor does it have the majority support from both houses, makes no sense at all; if Pres Obama was a dictator, which he is not, then he could be blamed for not implementing his will. Without emigration reform, given the population statistics re child birth in the USA, no question that the situation will result in an ever increase in the social structural load, a failure is in the way, of the rapidly ageing/increasing required social support services, the load will be on the remaining working population- they all need to contribute taxes. Only rapid emigration reform will ensure the taxbase can sustain the US as a progressive nation. The sooner the legislative branches get on with the legislative task at hand, the better for all. The Pres will need to ensure he has a dedicated, competent administrative org to ensure the reforms get implemented flawlessly, not like the good/well intentioned affordable care program.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid