With just more than a month left until the end of the current fiscal year and six weeks until the debt ceiling is reached, the clock is ticking while Congress is on recess.
The NY Times reported on August 22, 2013,
“Budget talks between the White House and Senate Republicans have gone nowhere since Congress began its summer recess, increasing chances of a fiscal stalemate that could lead to a government shutdown in October or the threat of a government default later in the fall.”
Negotiators who had hoped for a summer breakthrough say the chances for a major deficit reduction deal are rapidly slipping away. While many members of both parties say they would like to avoid either a shuttering of the government as of Oct. 1 or a default caused by failing to increase the federal debt limit, no acceptable solution has emerged. Lawmakers say the consequences could be severe.
Given the lack of progress:
Those involved say Speaker John A. Boehner will need to play a crucial role in finding an agreement. House Republican leaders consulted with their rank and file via a conference call Thursday night to sound out their ideas to avoid a fiscal crisis as early as Oct. 1. Mr. Boehner pressed gingerly for a straight short-term extension of funds to avoid an immediate government shutdown in October, but faced immediate opposition from conservatives demanding that funds be stripped from the health care law. One thought is to use a short-term spending bill to keep the government running into November, when Congress must raise the government’s statutory borrowing limit. That way, with both a debt default and government shutdown looming, Republicans could apply maximum pressure on the White House to either agree to scuttle President Obama’s health care law or accept significant changes in programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the House leadership’s vote-counting team said:
“What Republicans want to do is make progress on the debt, With all due respect to Republicans in the Senate, just because you get a deal with the minority of the minority over there doesn’t mean you get a deal with a majority of the majority in the House.”
The search for a path around the looming crisis has been complicated by a full-throttle conservative push to shut down the government in October unless the Affordable Care Act is deprived of all further financing. Senior Republicans have tried hard to cool the enthusiasm around the idea. Mr. Cole called it “well-intended but misdirected.”