News / USA

    US Lawmakers Begin Last-Ditch Effort on Debt Ceiling

    Another Day Passes With No US Budget Deali
    X
    October 16, 2013 1:40 PM
    Democratic and Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have resumed debate on a deal aimed at ending the government shutdown and increasing the government's borrowing authority ahead of Thursday's critical deadline, when the United States would default on some of its debts. Political and economic leaders are warning the ongoing impasse could have a negative impact on the domestic and global economies. Richard Green reports from Washington.
    Related video by Richard Green
    Reuters
    The U.S. Senate prepared for a last ditch effort Wednesday to avoid a historic lapse in the government's borrowing authority, a breach that President Barack Obama has said could lead to default and deliver a damaging blow to the global economy.

    After a day of stop-and-go negotiations, the top Democrat and Republican in the U.S. Senate were said to be close to agreeing on a proposal to raise the debt limit - and reopen the partially shuttered government - for consideration by the full Senate on Wednesday. The measure's fate remained uncertain in the fractured Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which failed twice Tuesday to produce its own plan.

    FILE - U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)FILE - U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
    x
    FILE - U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
    FILE - U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)
    The Senate was scheduled to meet at noon (1600 GMT) on Wednesday, and the House at 10:00 a.m. (1400 GMT). With borrowing authority set to run out on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican leader Senator Mitch McConnell "are very close" to an agreement, Representative Chris Van Hollen, a top House Democrat, told MSNBC late Tuesday night. "This is now back on track," Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp told CNN late on Tuesday, after a day of chaotic developments that frayed the nerves of many members of Congress and global financial markets.

    McConnell and Reid resumed stalled talks after a rollercoaster day that saw two separate legislative efforts in the House buried after it became apparent too many Republicans were belling against their leaders' plans. Following weeks of bitter fighting among Democrats and Republicans, the layoff of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and turmoil for stock markets, the deal under discussion- if eventually enacted - would basically give President Barack Obama what he has demanded for months: A straight-forward debt limit hike and government funding bill.

    Major US Payments Due

    • Oct. 23 - Social Security benefits $12 billion
    • Oct. 30 - Medicaid payments to providers $2 billion
    • Oct. 31 - Interest payment on public debt $6 billion
    • Nov. 1 - Medicare payment to providers and  plans $18 billion                
    • Social Security benefits $25 billion
    • Military pay, retirement and veteran benefits $12 billion
    • Supplemental Security income benefits $3 billion
    • Nov. 14 - Social Security benefits $12 billion
    • Nov. 15 - Interest payment on debt $29 billion
    The deal would extend U.S. borrowing authority until Feb. 7, although the Treasury Department would have tools to temporarily extend its borrowing capacity beyond that date if Congress failed to act early next year. With the final details not yet nailed down, as it stood Tuesday night, the agreement envisioned funding government agencies until Jan. 15, ending a partial government shutdown that began with the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.

    Asian stock markets were listless in early trading on Wednesday as they waited to see if Washington was closing in ona deal to resolve the debt crisis. Stocks showed little chang eand remained near a five-month peak.

    Senate hurdles

    Senate aides said the two leaders are looking at two possible ways of speeding the legislation through the chamber, which often can bog down for days with procedural hurdles.

    Senator Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, told reporters: "In order to move this quickly tomorrow or as soon thereafter as possible, we need cooperation of members. If they want to drag their feet, use every objection they can, this could take a few days."

    Senator Ted Cruz is pursued by reporters upon his return to Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 11, 2013.Senator Ted Cruz is pursued by reporters upon his return to Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 11, 2013.
    x
    Senator Ted Cruz is pursued by reporters upon his return to Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 11, 2013.
    Senator Ted Cruz is pursued by reporters upon his return to Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 11, 2013.
    Under one scenario, all 100 senators would agree to let Democrats schedule quick votes to pass the bill. That would mean that Tea Party firebrands, such as Republican Senator Ted Cruz, would give up their rights to delay a vote. Cruz has not publicly announced his intentions but some Senate aides think that the Texas freshman with presidential aspirations has been sending positive signals in recent days. Cruz and fellow Tea Party activists late last month delayed passage of a government funding bill as they demanded major changes to Obama's landmark healthcare law. The deadlock led to federal agency shutdowns as Obama and his fellow Democrats stood firm against changing the law.

    The other scenario would have the House send a formal "message" to the Senate to pave the way for quick Senate action, according to a Senate aide who asked not to be identified. Again, it was not clear whether House Republicans would go along with that option.

    Boehner’s tough decision

    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks away from the microphone during a news conference after a House GOP meeting, Capitol Hill, Washington, Oct. 15, 2013.House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks away from the microphone during a news conference after a House GOP meeting, Capitol Hill, Washington, Oct. 15, 2013.
    x
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks away from the microphone during a news conference after a House GOP meeting, Capitol Hill, Washington, Oct. 15, 2013.
    House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, walks away from the microphone during a news conference after a House GOP meeting, Capitol Hill, Washington, Oct. 15, 2013.
    Assuming the Senate succeeds, House Speaker John Boehner will have to decide whether to allow passage of a bill that many of his fellow Republicans might oppose, a decision that could impact the top Republican's political future.

    Uncertainty over Washington's ability to avert a default led Fitch Ratings to warn it could cut the sovereign credit rating of the United States from AAA, citing the political brinkmanship over raising the federal debt ceiling.

    House Republicans twice tried to come up with a new compromise but failed to satisfy Obama, Senate Democrats or Tea Party conservatives who are determined to win changes to the president's signature health care law before they will agree to concessions on the budget. The first House Republican attempt was shot down in a closed-door meeting that had begun with members singing the hymn "Amazing Grace."

    "The second plan was scuttled hours before it was expected to hit the House floor for a vote after the influential Heritage Action for America, a conservative group, urged a "no" vote because it did not do enough to stop Obama's healthcare law. If Congress fails to reach a deal by Thursday, checks would likely go out on time for a short while for everyone from bond holders to workers who are owed unemployment benefits. But analysts warn that a default on government obligations could quickly follow, potentially causing the U.S. financial sector to freeze up and threatening the global economy.

    The U.S. Treasury Department seized on Fitch's downgrade threat to press Congress. "The announcement reflects the urgency with which Congress should act to remove the threat of default hanging over the economy," a Treasury spokesperson said. After the Fitch announcement, S&P 500 futures fell9.6 points while Dow Jones industrial average futures sank 60 points and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 7.5 points.

    Numerous polls show Republicans have taken a hit in public opinion since the standoff began and the government partially closed. A Washington Post/ABC News poll released on Monday found that 74 percent of Americans disapprove of the way congressional Republicans have handled the standoff, compared with a 53 percent disapproval rating for Obama. Another survey released by Gallup on Tuesday showed American confidence in the U.S. economy fell another five points last week as the government shutdown continued. The crisis is the latest in a series of budget battles in recent years that have hurt consumer confidence and weighed on the economy.

    A Monday estimate by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a think tank, said the uncertainty caused by the frequent fiscal showdowns had boosted the unemployment rate by 0.6 of a percentage point, or the equivalent of 900,000 jobs since late 2009.

    • Protesters pile barricades in front of the White House in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
    • Police scuffle with protesters taking part in the "Million Vet March on the Memorials" that drew hundreds of demonstators in front of the White House in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
    • A man carries an "Impeach Obama" sign while protesting outside the White House in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
    • A protester speaks to people gathered at a rally at the World War II Memorial in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
    • Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at a rally at the World War II Memorial in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
    • Kaylee, Sherry and Michael Cantrell pose for a photo with a sign and removed barricades at the World War II Memorial in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
    • People rally at the World War II Memorial in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.
    • Protesters rally at the National U.S. World War II Memorial in Washington, Oct. 13, 2013.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ramnarayan from: Florida, USA
    October 16, 2013 6:28 AM
    As a cancer researcher, I see that lot of out Govt. sites are not functioning. This means valuable discoveries to benefit people are in hold. Similarly, there are many other reasons for a pause in our ability to help our needy citizens. I urge the Congress to put aside the bickering and think about the people and their sufferings.

    The Tea party should pause to think the consequences of their action. Are you for the people who elected you? In that case, why don't you show some maturity? Take your fights to the next election and let the people decide. It is shameful the way our politicians are behaving and treat the tax payers who pay for their salary with derision. At this rate, US will become a non player in the world. Is this the kind of legacy the Tea party is striving for? Watch out, you will get what you wish for. Grow up before you become irrelevant.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.