News / USA

US Government Shutdown Looms, Budget Standoff Continues

House Speaker House John Boehner of Ohio, left, stands next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 6, 2011, during a break from work on the federal budget.
House Speaker House John Boehner of Ohio, left, stands next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 6, 2011, during a break from work on the federal budget.
Michael Bowman

While negotiations to fund the U.S. government continue behind closed doors, Democrats and Republicans are pointing fingers at each other over a bitter partisan standoff.  Without a budget deal, most non-security federal operations will be halted after Friday, when a temporary spending measure expires.

Although budget negotiations are continuing outside the public’s view, there is no shortage of commentary by congressional leaders on where talks stand. Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Majority Leader Harry Reid blamed Republicans for the budget impasse. He accused the party of rebuffing every Democratic attempt to reach a compromise, and continually issuing new demands to further slash federal spending.

"Republicans refuse to take ‘yes’ for an answer. Every time we agree to meet in the middle, they move where the middle is. They said ‘no’ when we met them halfway. Now they say ‘it’s our way or the highway’. We [Democrats] long ago accepted the fact that the only way to reach consensus [between] a Democratic Senate and a Republican House is to compromise. I wish I could say the same about those on the other side of the negotiating table," he said.

Moments later, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell placed blame for the budget standoff squarely on Democrats. He said they failed to pass a budget for the current fiscal year, which began in October, when they controlled both houses of Congress before the Republicans took control of the House in January.

"Each year, the majority party in Congress is responsible for coming up with a budget plan that explains how they are going to pay for all the things that government does. Well, last year, the Democratic leaders in Congress decided they didn’t want to do it. They didn’t want to have to publicly defend their bloated spending and the debt that it is creating. And they still haven’t come up with an alternative to the various Republican proposals we have seen to keep the government up and running," he said.

Republicans are demanding deep cuts in non-security spending, with no tax increases, to eliminate America’s $1.5 trillion deficit over the next decade and eventually reduce a $14 trillion national debt. Democrats prefer modest reductions in social programs, deeper cuts in defense spending and tax hikes for the wealthy. Both parties acknowledge that programs that provide health care for retirees and the disadvantaged will have to be reformed, but so far only Republicans have issued a detailed plan to do so.

The immediate budget battle concerns federal spending for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, which ends in September. But both parties see the fight as the opening salvo of a much larger budget battle to come, and appear unwilling to compromise on core convictions about the role government should play in society.

For New Hampshire Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte, government functions should be kept to a minimum so that they do not interfere with private enterprise.

"Out-of-control spending jeopardizes our nation’s economic strength and costs us jobs. We cannot spend out way to prosperity. The reality is that government does not create the jobs. Small businesses and entrepreneurs create jobs. What we can do in the Senate is to help create the right tax and regulatory conditions to allow our businesses to thrive and grow," she said.

By contrast, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who caucuses with Democrats, sees government as an essential promoter of the common good.

"The richest people in this country are doing phenomenally well," he said. "The middle class is in decline; poverty is increasing. Republican answer: more tax breaks for the very, very rich, lower corporate taxes, but stick it to [punish] working families. We are at a fork in the road. Do we develop public policy, which protects all of our people, which expands the middle class? Or are we at a moment in history, which moves this country aggressively toward oligarchy, in which you have a small number of people at the top with incredible wealth and incredible power, while the middle class continues to disappear?"

For months, Congress has kept the government running through a series of temporary spending measures, each enacted days before a threatened shutdown. The current measure expires Friday. President Obama has said it is past time for a bipartisan budget deal.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
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 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 Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
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 Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
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.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid