News / USA

US Congress Approves Stop-Gap Spending Measure

Congressmen walk down the steps of the House of Representatives as they work overnight on a spending bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 18, 2011 (file photo)
Congressmen walk down the steps of the House of Representatives as they work overnight on a spending bill, on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 18, 2011 (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio
Michael Bowman

The U.S. Congress has approved a stop-gap measure to fund the federal government for the next two weeks. The bill, approved Wednesday 91 to 9 by the Senate, postpones a possible government shutdown, and gives Democrats and Republicans a brief window to agree on spending levels for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends in September.

The bill, called a continuing resolution, is one small stride in what members of both political parties say must be a long march to reduce America’s $1.5-trillion federal deficit.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn compares government debt to an illness. "We have a real disease in our country today. And the disease is a cancer that will take away our freedom."

The approved measure trims expenditures by $4 billion in the short term - a down payment on far deeper cuts sought by Republicans, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Even though it was only a two-week bill, and a $4 billion reduction in spending, it is the first time I can recall, in the time that I have been here, our actually cutting spending on an appropriation bill," said McConnell.

McConnell said crushing debt is suffocating the U.S. economy. "We have added $3 trillion to the [national] debt since the beginning of the Obama administration, while we have lost 3 million jobs. I think you could argue pretty persuasively that is the worst way to run the government.  And we want to stop that."


The Republican-controlled House of Representatives already has passed a budget bill for the remainder of the fiscal year that slashes spending by more than $60 billion.

Democrats, who control the Senate, say the cuts go too far.  "At a time when the gap between the very, very wealthy and everybody else is growing wider, will we try to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class, on the backs of the poor, on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children?," said Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent who often votes with the Democrats.

Democratic legislators are proposing more modest cuts, while President Barack Obama has advocated a five-year freeze on domestic non-security spending. Democrats warn severe budget cuts would harm a weak U.S. economic recovery and erode America’s long term competitiveness.

President Obama praised the stop-gap spending bill’s passage and urged Congress to make further progress on a bipartisan basis.

Democratic Senator Richard Durbin struck a somber note after voting for the continuing resolution. "I do not think passing a spending bill for 14 days is anything to celebrate. It is going to take a super-human effort by the White House, as well as congressional leaders, to achieve a new spending bill for the remainder of the year in just two weeks, but we are going to roll up our sleeves and get after it."

Analyst Bill Gallston of the Brookings Institution said that even if current-year spending levels are agreed to, bigger budget battles remain.

"There is a much longer-term conversation that has to begin about the budget for the new fiscal year [2012] and actually for a five-year timeframe. That will be a very difficult conversation."

Gallston said Democrats and Republicans will have to compromise and show flexibility if government shutdowns are to be avoided and America’s fiscal position is to improve.

"If both parties mean what they are now saying, then we are in for a very rough time in the United States."

Polls show the American people angry and worried about federal debt, but divided on whether a government shutdown is beneficial to force fiscal restraint. For now, Washington has a two-week reprieve to try to bridge partisan differences and forge a way forward.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid