News / USA

US Lawmakers Continue Marathon Debate on Government Spending

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, left, accompanied by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, right, and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, February 18, 2011
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, left, accompanied by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, right, and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill, February 18, 2011
Cindy Saine

The U.S. House of Representatives is immersed in a fourth day of debate on a bill that would cut government spending for this fiscal year by more than $60 billion. The epic battle between Democrats and Republicans is over the country’s spending priorities.

House lawmakers spent much of the past three days and nights debating and voting on 583 amendments to a bill to cut government spending. Some lawmakers began to appear tense and tired, but some, like Republican Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, were still passionate for even deeper cuts to government spending.

"We said to the American people that we would do at least a $100 billion, we have added hundreds of millions of dollars to that, let's do more, let's do 22 billion more, let's under-promise, over-deliver and set this nation back on a pathway toward fiscal responsibility and reform," he said.

Republicans swept midterm elections across the country last November, winning majority control of the House and picking up some seats in the still-Democratic controlled Senate.  Many of the Republican candidates promised dramatic cuts to domestic spending.

During this week's marathon debate, Democrats have fought cuts to social programs, health care funding and funding for the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulatory agencies. Democratic Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota said many Americans are probably wondering what the debate is all about.

"What it is all about Mr. Speaker is which direction will America go in? Will we cut back and scale back vital programs that help Americans do better and move into the middle class?  Will we cut back and scale back vitally needed regulations to help protect us, allow us to have clean air and clean water and important other rights," Ellison said. "Or, Mr. Speaker, will we have an America where we have labor rights, where we can organize, where we can have adequate regulations that give us the opportunity to have a decent standard of life in America.”

Anna Palmer of "Congressional Quarterly" said Congress is having a hard time making budget cuts because it is more used to spending,

"For the first time in a very long time, the House of Representatives is looking at cutting funds instead of adding them, in terms of foreign aid, in terms of education and making really drastic cuts," she said.

The current temporary spending measure now in effect will expire on March 4.  The House and the Senate have to agree on a spending bill to prevent a government shutdown on March 5. The U.S. government shut down in late 1994 after a showdown between then Democratic President Bill Clinton and a Republican-controlled House. Palmer said Republican leaders are wary of another shutdown.

"House Republicans have said publicly and very adamantly, frankly, that they do not want a government shutdown," she said. "They did that in 1994 and it was not a very successful political tool."

But Palmer and other analysts say the high-stakes battle over budget priorities is also risky for Democratic President Barack Obama. Democratic leaders in the Senate have said they will not accept such drastic cuts to a spending bill, and Obama has said he would veto it if it reaches his desk.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs