World News

    US Republicans Considering Short-term Increase in Borrowing Limit

    U.S. Republican lawmakers are considering a short-term increase in the country's borrowing authority so the United States does not default on its financial obligations.

    Speaker John Boehner, leader of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, asked his colleagues to support the increase in the country's $16.7 trillion debt ceiling, perhaps by a big enough figure so the U.S. could borrow more to pay all its bills for the next six weeks. Key Republican leaders are then headed to the White House to talk with U.S. President Barack Obama about the plan.

    That debt extension, if it happens, possibly would give Republicans a chance to negotiate spending cuts with Mr. Obama, who has called for an increase in the borrowing limit without conditions.

    But an increase in the borrowing authority would not end Washington's other financial dilemma -- the government's partial shutdown, now in its 10th day.

    Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told a Senate panel that the country will reach its borrowing authority in a week, and that it would be a "grave mistake" to fail to increase it.
    By next Thursday, he said the Treasury would only have about $30 billion on hand and some incoming revenue, but not enough to pay all its bills.

    He said the government should not have to make "perilous choices" whether it uses its available cash to pay government bond holders, pension and health benefits owed to older Americans, aid to military veterans or businesses that provide services to the government.



    "The United States should not be put in a position of making such perilous choices for our economy and our citizens. There is no way of knowing the irrevocable damage such an approach would have on our economy and financial markets."



    But Lew declined to say how much of an increase Mr. Obama wants in the debt ceiling, other than to say it should cover borrowing needs for a longer, rather than shorter period of time.

    The debate over increasing the U.S. debt limit comes in the midst of the government shutdown because of a stalemate between Mr. Obama, a Democrat, and his Republican opponents in Congress over government spending priorities and the implementation of widespread health care reforms that are his signature legislative achievement.

    Senator Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said that while the government shutdown "has been disruptive, a default would be a financial heart attack."

    Republican Orrin Hatch criticized Mr. Obama for not negotiating over government spending issues while asking for an increase in the country's debt limit without conditions.

    Hatch noted that in 2006, then-Senator Obama called a proposed increase in the debt ceiling at the time a "failure of leadership," when Republican President George W. Bush was in office. Hatch said the borrowing limit has since been increased seven times during Mr. Obama's term in the White House, from $11.3 trillion to the current $16.7 trillion.



    The standoff over the government shutdown between Republicans and Mr. Obama is chiefly over the president's health care law that by January will require most Americans to buy health insurance or pay a fine, a mandatory provision that Republicans staunchly oppose.

    Republicans had originally sought to either end spending for the law or delay it in exchange for halting the shutdown and raising the debt ceiling, and Boehner has called on Mr. Obama to hold negotiations before letting the House vote.

    But the president says he will not negotiate until Congress approves the issues without any conditions. The partial shutdown has halted numerous government services, including death benefits to the families of U.S. service members killed in combat. The public backlash prompted the House to vote unanimously Wednesday to restore the benefits. The measure now goes to the Senate.

    The Pentagon has reached an agreement with a private charity to pay the benefits until funding is restored.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora