News / USA

Washington Fiscal Impasse: To Talk or Not To Talk

House Speaker John Boehner, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans about ways to re-open the government and address criticisms of the nation's new health care law, Oct. 4, 2013.
House Speaker John Boehner, joined by members of the Republican Caucus, demands that the White House and congressional Democrats negotiate with congressional Republicans about ways to re-open the government and address criticisms of the nation's new health care law, Oct. 4, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman
— Washington’s fiscal impasse has caused a government shutdown and threatens a U.S. debt default. It also has forced lawmakers to grapple with issues of democratic governance: specifically, how to fulfill basic duties in a politically divided legislature. Much of the fury on Capitol Hill revolves around whether the current standoff should be resolved through negotiations and compromise between Democrats and Republicans.

Dialogue - it is how differences are supposed to be resolved. But are negotiations appropriate to resolve America’s current fiscal crises? The speaker of the Republican-led House of Representatives, John Boehner, says yes.

“The American people expect, when their leaders have differences and we are in a time of crisis, that we will sit down and at least have a conversation. Really, Mr. President, it is time to have that conversation before our economy is put further at risk," said Boehner.

Boehner wants President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to consider Republican stipulations for extending federal funding and raising the U.S. borrowing limit. Democrats respond that keeping the government open and paying the nation’s bills are in both political parties’ interest, and should not be subject to partisan ransom.

Furthermore, according to Democrats, negotiations and compromise already have taken place. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he and Speaker Boehner had discussions months ago about the need to keep the federal government running beyond October 1. Reid says he reluctantly agreed to lower funding levels demanded by Republicans in order to make the bill palatable to them and to avoid a shutdown. On the Senate floor Monday, Reid described his earlier conversations with Boehner:

“I agreed to his [lower funding] number. It was very hard to do for we in the Democratic caucus. But it was his [Boehner’s] idea, not my idea. All this talk about ‘not negotiating’. That is what that was all about," said Reid.

In a television interview Sunday, Boehner acknowledged his discussions with Reid prior to the government shutdown. The speaker said a core group of House Republicans was not satisfied with Reid’s concession, and demanded measures to weaken President Obama’s health care law be included in the fight over government funding.

But that was then and this is now, according to the Senate’s top Republican, Mitch McConnell, who says Congress finds itself at an impasse, and only dialogue between the two parties can resolve it.

“The American people have given us divided government. They gave us a Republican House and a Democratic Senate. That means negotiation is not a luxury. It is a necessity. There is a time for politics, and there is a time for sitting down like adults and working things out," said McConnell.

Democrats suggest a different path: that the House vote on a condition-free funding bill already approved by the Senate. So far, Speaker Boehner has refused to allow the bill to come to the floor for a vote. It is widely believed that enough moderate House Republicans would join with Democrats to ensure passage. As a result, Democrats question the need for negotiations to end the government shutdown when a solution already exists.

But President Obama and Democrats are pressing a larger point: that partisan concerns must not bring the government to a halt. Senator Chris Murphy puts it this way:

“This place just cannot operate if, in order to keep the government open for six weeks, we have to satisfy everybody’s personal political agendas. If all 100 senators had to get their particular non-budgetary political points settled as a requirement of passing a continuing resolution [temporary funding bill], this place would absolutely collapse," said Murphy.

With non-essential government operations halted and a debt crisis looming, not only are American lawmakers deadlocked on a solution, for now they are also unable to agree on a path for ultimately arriving at one.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid