With US Debt Crisis
Looming, Partisan Gridlock Hobbles Washington
July 27, 2011
Top U.S. lawmakers of both major political parties are pledging to
defeat their opponents' last-ditch proposals to cut federal spending and
raise the government's borrowing limit. One day after President Barack
Obama pleaded for compromise to avert a possible default on U.S. debt
obligations, congressional deliberations remain hobbled by partisan
gridlock and inflexibility.
Speaker John Boehner
With days to go before the United States faces what President Obama has
called financial "Armageddon," the legislative path to averting a debt
crisis appears murkier than ever.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dismissed a proposal issued
a day earlier by Republican House Speaker John Boehner that would trim
the federal deficit and raise the debt ceiling in two stages.
"It is a short-term fix that Republicans know is untenable to Democrats
in the White House and Congress," said Reid. "The Republican plan, they
know, will not pass the Senate of the United States."
Moments later, the Senate's top Republican, Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell, blasted a plan put forth by Senator Reid that would also cut
spending, but allow for a single, large-scale increase in federal
"We will fight against anything that pretends to solve the problem, but
does not," said McConnell. "The majority leader proposed a plan
yesterday that is nothing more than an attempt to pull the wool over the
eyes of the American people."
Although in the minority, Republicans have sufficient numbers to block a
final vote on the Reid plan. The Reid plan is considered dead on arrival
in the House of Representatives, as is the Boehner plan in the Senate.
In fact, passage of the Boehner plan in the House is far from assured.
Minority Democrats oppose the Republican proposal, and some members of
the Tea Party faction of the Republican caucus have pledged to vote
against any increase in the debt ceiling on ideological grounds.
Early Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor reportedly urged
fellow-Republicans to set aside intra-party disagreements and rally
behind the Boehner plan.
Senator Reid argued his proposal satisfies key Republican demands:
substantial spending cuts and no tax increases.
"If Republicans continue to oppose a reasonable proposal I brought to
the floor last night, and which we will vote on in the Senate soon, it
will be crystal-clear that Republicans do not care if we default on the
debt. That is sad but true," added Reid.
Meanwhile, Senator McConnell blasted President Obama's handling of
months of negotiations that have yet to yield an agreement.
president can claim to be concerned about this impending crisis. But one
question continues to linger above every press conference he has called
and every speech he has delivered: where is his plan to resolve it?
Republicans have proposed multiple plans," McConnell said.
President Obama has put forth the parameters of a deal as he would like
to see it, but left it to bipartisan negotiations to try to hammer out a
The Obama administration says August 2 is the deadline for raising the
debt ceiling. Beyond that date, U.S. Treasury officials say the federal
government will have to rely on tax revenue alone to fund its
operations. Those revenues are insufficient to cover domestic and
foreign expenditures, while also servicing America's $14.3 trillion