As the U.S. government shutdown enters its 7th day with over 800,000 furloughed federal government employees scrambling to pay their bills, political leaders on Capitol Hill made no progress over the week-end to address the fiscal budget showdown that is increasingly showing little signs of being resolved anytime soon.
After President Obama canceled an economic trip to Asia that was scheduled over the week-end, many Americans were expecting to see some signs of diplomatic progress in Washington D.C. between the Obama administration and the Republican leadership in the House concerning the government shutdown and raising the debt ceiling.
But no meetings were held over the week-end and both parties don’t appear to be any closer towards approve resolutions that fund the government and raise the debt ceiling before its October 17th deadline.
The U.S. is expected to run out of its borrowing authority on Oct. 17th with only $30 billion in cash to pay its bills, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was questioned on ABC’s Sunday’s This Week about the political stalemate concerning the government shutdown and raising the U.S. debt ceiling, two major distractions for the American public and the business community.
“The President has canceled his trip to Asia over the week-end. I assumed well maybe he wants to have a conversation. I decided to stay here in Washington this week-end” Boehner said.
He knows what my telephone number is……all he has to do is call” Boehner added.
Boehner placed the blame squarely on the Obama administration for failing to hold a week-end conversation about government shutdown and debt-ceiling while citing a serious downside risk to the economy if the budget impasse persists.
“The nation’s credit is at risk because of the administration’s refusal to sit down and have a conversation,” Boehner said.
Following the 2011 debt ceiling debacle which saw last minute political wrangling over raising the debt ceiling limit, the credit agency Standard and Poor downgraded the nation’s AAA credit rating which resulted in higher borrowing costs.
During the past month, House Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) has become a pivotal person in the Republican majority Congress that has failed to approve a spending resolution that is capable of being approved by President Obama and Democrats who control the Senate.
Republicans in Congress have only been willing to vote on and approve a spending resolution that contains a major sticking point for Democrats in the Senate because it carries a one year delay of the court approved 2010 Affordable Health Care Act, known as Obamacare.
Last week, President Obama called on House Speaker Boehner to bring to the House floor a “clean” continuing resolution (CR) to be voted on that strips away references to the controversial Affordable Health Care Act which some conservative House Republicans still vow to delay and obstruct for political reasons.
House Speaker Boehner told ABC on Sunday that there are not enough votes in the House to pass a clean resolution despite a wave of new reports that surfaced over the past several days that indicate more Congressional Republicans, including some from the Tea Party, are now willing to form a coalition with House Democrats and pass a “clean” resolution if House Speaker Boehner simply puts it up for a vote.
“There are not the votes in the House to pass a clean CR (continuing resolution)” Speaker Boehner said on ABC.
Republicans in Congress are now seeking to impose new spending cuts that address the government’s long-term debt in return for raising its $16.7 trillion debt limit.
If the debt ceiling limit is not raised, the United States could experience a default with damaging consequences for the U.S. economy.
The Obama administration has already made it clear that they won’t negotiate with Republicans over raising the debt ceiling or funding the government, claiming that it is an inherent function of Congress to approve a workable spending budget and raise the debt limit.
Speaker Boehner said on Sunday that he is concerned about the underlying spending problems that led to the U.S. accumulating $ 16.7 trillion in debt.
“How can you raise the debt limit and do nothing about the underlying problem?” Boehner questioned.
“The President got $650 billion of new revenues on January 1st. He got his revenues…now it’s time to talk about the spending problem” Boehner insisted while also admitting that Congress won’t be raising any new taxes.
Republicans are believed to be seeking concessions from the Obama administration and Democrats in the Senate that include entitlement spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt ceiling limit.
Boehner said that he is a reasonable guy who is ready to talk about the budget impasse.
“The American people expect in Washington when we have a crisis like this that the leaders will sit down and have a conversation. And I told my members the other day that there may be a back room somewhere…. but there is nobody in it.”
Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) was interviewed separately on ABC’s This Week and said that Democrats are happy to negotiate but without a gun being pointed to their head from Republicans.
“Well first, the Speaker said there aren’t the votes on the floor to re-open the government. Let me issue him a friendly challenge, put it on the floor Monday or Tuesday, I would be there are the votes to pass it” Schumer said.
Schumer said that Democrats are willing to talk with House Speaker Boehner about the U.S. budget deficit.
“Leader Henry Reid (D-Nevada) already gave him his budget number when we talked about the resolution about funding the government. We gave into his number and then he said Obamacare. He keeps throwing different things at the wall and we know the reason why” Schumer explained.
“Ted Cruz (R-Tx) and the hard right Republicans are holding him hostage in effect and right up to now he hasn’t had the courage or the strength to resist them” Schumer added.
Senator Schumer believes that as the political gridlock grows more intense on Capitol Hill, the business community will use their leverage to pressure House Speaker Boehner to negotiate a budget deal that is capable of gaining traction among Democrats.
“Sooner or later he will be forced to, particularly on the debt ceiling because the business community, which still has some weight with mainstream Republicans if not the Tea Party, will put huge clout on him and, as we get closer, the blame will fall on Speaker Boehner and the Republican Party for this upcoming disaster” Schumer said.