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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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