House leaders in Washington postponed a vote on Speaker John Boehner’s measure to resolve the debt ceiling debate, pushing the nation another day closer to default.
Boehner, a Republican, pushed for debate on the bill even though Senate leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, called it dead on arrival in the Senate and the White House had declared its opposition. Though Boehner could muscle the bill to the floor for two hours of debate, he failed to muster enough support to bring it to a vote. Republican leaders in the House stated they planned to hold a vote on Friday even as they worked to obtain the 217 votes needed to move to the bill to the Senate.
Boehner takes the so-called two-step approach in his bill. It would call for nearly $1 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years in exchange for raising the nation’s borrowing capacity beyond the current $14.3 trillion. Another vote on raising the debt ceiling would be scheduled for next year. In between, a special committee of lawmakers would work to draft legislation to cut spending further. Its recommendation would go before both chambers for an up-or-down vote.
Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry stated it will take more than one bill to deal with the nation’s growing deficit.
“It is so large and so big that the best thing that we can do is start to turn it in the right direction,” Fortenberry said. “It took a long time to get this deep into the hole, it going to take some time to get out of it.”
Time isn’t on Congress’ side, though. The Treasury Department has stated that it will run low on cash August 3rd, unable to pay all the nation’s obligations. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, Treasury will have to determine who gets paid and who doesn’t, with America’s creditors likely to be the first in line.
“I’m very concerned about the deadline and, now, it’s just a few days away,” Sen. Johanns told reporters during his weekly conference call.
Johanns expressed frustration with the lack of progress and with the House moving in one direction and the Senate moving in another; it’s hard to see how the issue will be resolved.
“So, the process itself remains unclear,” Johanns stated.
Johanns, a Republican, said he could not vote for Senate leader Reid’s bill. Reid claimed that his measure contains the spending cuts Republicans have demanded before voting to increase the nation’s borrowing capacity. Johanns, though, questioned whether the nation would realize all of the cuts Reid outlined, in particular savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Johanns said he would look to the House for a measure that could resolve the issue.
Sen. Nelson stated this week during his conference call with reporters that the process needs to follow tradition: the two sides need to reach a compromise. Nelson, a Democrat, said that he had seen obstruction adversely impact the economy and the future of the country.
“We have to have honest debate and, at the end of the day, call the question and vote on things,” Nelson stated.
Voting is precisely what the House failed to do this evening. A vote had been scheduled for 5pm Thursday. House leaders held out hope that the votes could be assured to vote sometime later than evening. They gave up at about 9:30pm.