U.S. government shut down? Negotiations suspended as Congress debates debt ceiling

Negotiations were suspended on a short-term bill to fund the government until March 27 while lawmakers study several options including raising the debt ceiling until December. The House and Senate have agreed to continue…

U.S. government shut down? Negotiations suspended as Congress debates debt ceiling

Negotiations were suspended on a short-term bill to fund the government until March 27 while lawmakers study several options including raising the debt ceiling until December.

The House and Senate have agreed to continue to negotiate toward a long-term budget deal through Friday. The two chambers remain divided on the debt ceiling increase, after Republicans offered to increase the borrowing limit through December, and Democratic leaders rejected their proposal.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., argued that his chamber had already approved the necessary measures through a short-term funding bill, and that the Senate hadn’t.

“We moved as swiftly as possible. They did not,” Rogers said. “And I think if we had our way we wouldn’t have this issue, and they certainly wouldn’t have this debt ceiling discussion, that frankly that they’re discussing right now, which is — they like the bipartisan discussion, which they are, but they don’t seem to be thinking about this.”

The short-term measure does not include a measure to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling, which would give the Treasury Department time to reverse any increases in the limit due to automatic spending cuts, but Rogers said he felt confident enough of a bipartisan agreement in time that the U.S. will avoid defaulting on its debt.

“I’m very confident that it will happen by December 31 because, again, I think the last thing we need to do is wreak havoc on our economy,” Rogers said.

The Senate majority leader’s office said in a statement late Friday night that the House and Senate agreed to a stand-alone vote on the debt ceiling extension.

Negotiations on the short-term spending plan initially stalled Thursday after House Republicans offered a compromise that called for $0.5 billion in spending cuts over 10 years in exchange for a yearlong extension of the debt ceiling increase. Democrats said that spending cuts were already agreed to in the recent budget deal negotiated by Vice President Mike Pence and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Republicans opposed the bill, which would be five months long, because of the spending provisions.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said Friday morning that an extension was necessary to give negotiators an opportunity to “reach a real compromise that can pass both houses and deal with our issues.”

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., told reporters late Thursday that negotiators had pushed back until after recess, which began Friday afternoon.

Leave a Comment