Debates Continue on Critical Fiscal Decisions

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With the end of the fiscal year less than two weeks away, Congress has turned its attention towards a stop-gap funding measure. This year’s breakdown in the regular appropriations process, together with some lawmakers’ brinksmanship over the need to raise the debt ceiling, reflects a colossal failure by elected officials to meet their fiscal responsibilities.

Reports today indicated that House Republicans plan to propose a one-year increase in the debt limit coupled with provisions in a variety of other areas. The Obama administration, however, has long argued that raising the debt limit is a congressional responsibility that should not be held hostage to other political demands.

With only a few days left on this month’s legislative calendar, there is speculation that next week’s congressional recess will be canceled. If partisan gridlock prevails and no deal can be reached, the government could largely shut down on Oct. 1.

Last week Republican leaders put forth a proposal calling for two House votes: One to fund the government at 2013 sequestration levels for a short time, and another that would defund the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Some conservatives, however, complained that the Senate could pass the first bill while killing the second. Speaker Boehner canceled the vote.

On Monday Treasury Secretary Jack Lew reiterated his earlier warning that the “extraordinary measures” to avoid breaching the debt limit would be exhausted by mid-October. The Bipartisan Policy Center recently estimated that the government would exhaust its borrowing authority between Oct. 18 and Nov. 5.

Failure to raise the limit would result in the United States defaulting on its obligations, jeopardizing its credit rating and throwing global financial markets into turmoil.

External links:
BPC Analysis on Debt Ceiling Time Frame
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s Speech to the Economic Club of Washington

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