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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More