Republicans step back from debt showdown

2013-01-24 10:52
US Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner. (File, AFP)

US Speaker of the House Representative John Boehner. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • The Amateur
    A gripping read that reveals never before published details about the Obama administration's... Now R321.00
    buy now
Washington - Republicans sped legislation through the House of Representatives to suspend for nearly four months the requirement for Congress to approve a higher limit on America's borrowing, backing away from an immediate battle with second-term President Barack Obama and a possible first-ever default on the country's obligations.

Until changing course, Republicans had been threatening to demand dollar-for-dollar spending cuts to match the increase in the nation's borrowing limit.

At issue is the US debt - nearly $16.5 trillion and rising fast. That's the cumulative amount the country owes as a result of routinely spending more than it collects in taxes.

The law requires that Congress approve raising the amount the government can borrow to pay its obligations -such as payments to contractors, unemployment benefits and interest payments to US bondholders - as the debt exceeds the previous limit.

The House passed the measure on Wednesday by a 285-144 vote, a bipartisan showing on an initiative brought by majority Republicans. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to approve the debt bill as early as Friday or perhaps next week, and send it quickly to Obama for his signature.

The White House welcomed the legislation rather than face the threat of a first-ever default at the dawn of the president's second term in the White House, and spokesperson Jay Carney pointedly noted a "fundamental change" in strategy by the Republicans.

Criticism

Raising the debt ceiling once occurred largely as a matter of legislative course. But in 2011, a fight over the borrowing limit led to the first downgrading of the US debt in the country's history, despite a last-minute deal that saw both Obama and the Republican opposition give ground.

If the debt cap is not raised, the government would default on its obligations by as early as 15 February, the Treasury says.

With the debt ceiling issue back front and centre in Washington, Democrats criticise Republicans for using it as a tool to push their attempts to cut social programmes and require a fight over the debt every few months.

Republicans had been threatening to use Congressional power over the federal budget to exact spending cuts from the Obama administration and Democrats that would equal the increase in the so-called debt ceiling.

Republican budget cutters have long targeted the social safety net programmes: Medicare health insurance for Americans 65 and older, Medicaid insurance payments that cover the poor, and Social Security, the federal pension for Americans of retirement age.

But the Republican leadership in the House decided to step back from an immediate confrontation by suspending the required approval of raising the debt limit until 18 May, apparently deciding that Obama held the upper hand over congressional Republicans following his easy re-election to a second term in November.

Threats rejected


The legislation does not set a specific debt limit. It would automatically increase the limit by the amount required to fund US government obligations through that date.

Even before his inauguration earlier this week, Obama rejected Republican threats not to approve raising the borrowing limit, saying he would not allow the opposition to "hold hostage" the "full faith and credit" of the United States. While he then voiced opposition to repeatedly having to deal with the issue, he apparently set that aside as the Republicans decided to suspend action for four months.

The House Republicans' legislation was also designed to prod Senate Democrats to pass a budget after almost four years of failing to do so. It calls for withholding the pay of lawmakers in either the House or Senate if their chamber fails to pass a congressional budget resolution by 15 April 15.

 House Republicans, who regained majority control of the chamber in 2010, have passed budgets for two consecutive years, but the Senate, which was in Democrat hands throughout Obama's first term, hasn't passed one since his first year in office.

Under Congress' arcane budget procedures, a congressional budget resolution is a nonbinding measure that tries to set parameters for future legislation setting agency budgets and federal benefit programmes like Medicare.

On Sunday, Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer said the Senate would do just that and would use it to call for follow-up legislation that would increase revenues.

Most Republicans oppose higher taxes, contending that would only prove a drag on an already weak economic recovery. In the House especially, members of the Republican tea party faction won their place in Congress by promising constituents to shrink government and lower taxes.

- SAPA
Read more on:    barack obama  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.