House postpones vote on bill to reopen govt. and avoid default

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The twin crises began more than three weeks ago, when some lawmakers in the House insisted on seeking the defunding of Obamacare as the price for preventing a partial shutdown of the government.

The White House refused, and the Democratic-controlled Senate rejected legislation to achieve the GOP goal, as well as subsequent legislation that contained scaled-back concessions on the health care overhaul.

The partial shutdown, which began on Oct. 1, swiftly merged with the approaching debt crisis.

According to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, unless Congress acts by Oct. 17, the government will lose its ability to borrow, and would be required to meet its obligations relying only on cash on hand and incoming tax receipts.

While it was unclear how long that would suffice, the date stood as a deadline. The closer it approached, the more urgent became the pleas of businesses and bankers in this country as well as officials overseas for the United States to put its finances into order.

Whatever the outcome, the all-out assault on Obamacare that became a tea party rallying cry last summer was long gone, repulsed by the president and his Democratic allies in Congress.

Instead, Republican disapproval ratings have plummeted in public opinion polls in the past two weeks, vindicating warnings from Boehner, McConnell and other party elders that the original strategy of threatening to shut down the government in hopes of wiping out the overhaul was badly flawed.

“We got ourselves in a ditch,” McCain said. “And we got to stop digging.”

Beyond Washington, Fitch Ratings said it expected to conclude its review of the nation’s top credit rating within six months.

Fitch said it expected the debt limit to be raised soon but added, “The political brinkmanship and reduced financing flexibility could increase the risk of a U.S. default.” Fitch is one of the three leading U.S. credit ratings agencies, along with Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Andrew Taylor, Henry C. Jackson, Julie Pace and Alan Fram contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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