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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid