Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Republicans in the US lower house have proposed a
short-term increase to the debt ceiling. President Barack Obama has indicated
willingness to sign a temporary measure into law, signaling a potential compromise.
House Speaker John Boehner (pictured above) said on Thursday that Republicans
would propose a temporary increase in the US debt limit, but only if President Obama
agreed to negotiate over the ongoing government shutdown.
“Listen, it’s time for leadership,” Boehner told reporters after meeting his party
colleagues from the House of Representatives.
“What we have discussed as a conference is a temporary extension of the debt
ceiling – in exchange for a real commitment by this president and the Senate majority
leader to sit down and talk about the pressing problems that are facing all the
“That includes a broad array of issues,” the house speaker said.
Meanwhile, the White House called Boehner’s proposal an “encouraging sign.”
The current US debt ceiling of $16.7 trillion is fixed until October 17. If Congress fails
to raise the ceiling before then, the US will be unable to borrow additional money to
pay down past debts. That would put the federal government in a state of default for
the first time in its history.
While raising the debt ceiling was standard procedure in the past, House Republicans
- influenced by its conservative Tea Party caucus – have threatened not to raise the
ceiling in order to gain negotiating leverage with the president.
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Challenges lie ahead for President Obama, who was officially sworn in for his second term Sunday, but more so for Speaker John Boehner, who faces rebellious freshmen congressmen as the House deals with the debt ceiling, automatic spending cuts and government funding over the next few months.
If Congress fails to raise the federal government’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling by the end of next month, the nation will default. By March, action will be needed to avert deep spending cuts to military and domestic programs that were delayed by two months in the fiscal cliff deal. And the nation will face another threat of a government shutdown at the end of March.
As he deals with these challenges, Boehner faces a thinned majority given that Democrats won eight seats last November, and worse, 29 new Republicans can be expected to flout the leadership as they seek fiscal austerity.
Many House Republicans believe that bondholders can be paid off and Social Security checks can be filled even if the nation’s borrowing power runs out. For example, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) calls the default a “fake red herring,” according to The Washington Post. All the president needs to do is “prioritize spending,” he says.
When Boehner sought re-election earlier this month, four of the new Republicans refused to back him. Of a conference of 234 Republicans, 220 supported Boehner during the tension-filled vote on the House floor on Jan. 3. If just five more Republicans had refused to back him, there would have been a second ballot.
Conservatives within and outside Congress were unhappy with Boehner for his handling of the final “fiscal cliff” legislation.
However, some of the newcomers believe Boehner’s re-election despite their votes against him will lead the speaker to be tough with Obama. “Boehner has been too nice of a guy, frankly. The president has not been coming to the table. … He’s the one who’s out to lunch and John Boehner has been too nice,” Politico quoted Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) as saying. Broun feels the speaker will be “very tough” on the president in the coming months.
Besides, Boehner’s decision to have a vote this week on extending the debt limit for three months, with a requirement that both chambers pass a budget in that time or go without pay, will likely placate House conservatives.
“Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending,” Boehner said in his closing remarks at the Republican Party’s three-day retreat in Williamsburg, Va., which ended Friday. The speaker warned that if a budget resolution is not passed by the two chambers, members of Congress will be prevented from being paid. “We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem,” he said. “The principle is simple: no budget, no pay.”
At the retreat, Boehner sought help from former GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to brief members about the forthcoming battles.
Ryan later told reporters that his party would try its best to ensure that the House goes in for strong deficit-reduction measures. However, the House Budget Committee chairman added, “We also have to recognize the realities of divided government that we have.”