Congress Works On Holiday, Three Days Before Debt Deadline
Still Right Twice A Day: Visitors look at the Ohio Clock outside the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill Sunday. The clock that has stood watch over the Senate for 196 years stopped running shortly after noon Wednesday. Employees who wind the clock weekly were furloughed in the federal shutdown. Jose Luis Magana/AP
This year’s Columbus Day falls on Day 14 of the federal government shutdown, which means both the House and Senate will be in session on the holiday. Over the weekend, senators from both parties assumed key roles in the negotiations, after House Republicans and the White House failed to reach an agreement.
We’ll update this post as more news comes in; here’s Monday’s schedule, courtesy of C-SPAN:
The Senate is in session at 2 p.m. ET; will vote later on judicial nominations.
The House is in session at noon; votes are expected at 6:30 p.m. ET.
President Obama and Congress have until Thursday, Oct. 17, to reach a deal averting a potential credit default by the U.S. government, which has been in shutdown mode since the start of the new financial year this month.
Over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Republican counterpart, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, had at least two private meetings to discuss possible solutions to the impasse.
“The discussions were substantive, and we’ll continue those discussions,” Reid said in the Senate Sunday. “I’m optimistic about the prospects for a positive conclusion.”
Without an increase in the borrowing limit that’s currently set at $16.7 trillion, the government will be scraping to find money to meet its financial obligations, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says. And those needs will be particularly dire at the start of next month, as Nancy Marshall-Genzer reports for Marketplace:
“The U.S. has some huge payouts on November 1 — to Social Security recipients, Medicare providers — as well as its obligations to its troops. The country also needs money to keep running the parts of government that are still open — like the FAA and Justice Department.”
On Sunday, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the United States’ inability to get its financial house in order could bring “massive disruption the world over.”
Speaking on Meet the Press, Lagarde told NBC’s David Gregory that long-term solutions, not accounting tricks, were the answer to America’s problems.
“When you are the largest economy in the world, when you are the safe haven in all circumstances, as has been the case, you can’t go into that creative accounting business,” she said.
On today’s Morning Edition, NPR’s David Welna looks at how the debt ceiling became “a nuclear-tipped leverage point.”
Other developments over the weekend included:
- Sequestration returned as an item of contention; the next cuts are scheduled for Jan. 15.
- Leading Senate Democrats dismissed a compromise proposal by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Me., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, that would fund the government through March and raised the debt limit through January.
- Thousands of demonstrators, including military veterans, took down barriers at the World War II Memorial on the National Mall Sunday.
- The Senate rejected a bill to raise the debt ceiling through the end of 2014 on Saturday.