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Entries in Debt Ceiling (4)

Monday
Aug012011

Gabrielle Giffords Returns to Congress for Debt Ceiling Vote

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., returned to Congress on Monday night for the first time since being shot in the head in January, casting a vote in support of the compromise debt ceiling bill.

"Gabrielle has returned to Washington to support a bipartisan bill to prevent economic crisis," read a message posted to Giffords' Twitter account while members began casting their votes on the House floor. 

Minutes later, Giffords slowly entered the chamber to loud, sustained applause and a standing ovation by her colleagues, who huddled around her to give hugs, kisses and handshakes.

Vice President Joe Biden, with a big smile on his face, walked to the House floor and said, "I came to see Gabby, that's why I'm here."

In the hallway just outside, Giffords' husband Mark Kelly was all smiles as well.

"It feels good," he said as his wife was casting her first vote since the tragedy. "Great, actually."

Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin told Tucson Weekly in an email that "the congresswoman insisted on participating."

“Congresswoman Giffords has been following this debate closely over the past two weeks," she said. "Like the vast majority of Americans, she is extremely disappointed at Washington’s inability to confront the debt ceiling issue in a timely and thoughtful manner.”   

Escorted by her husband and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., Giffords exited the House floor slowly, giving a small wave to people as she left. She left the Capitol in an SUV shortly thereafter.

When Biden was asked about what he spoke with Giffords about, he joked, "She's now a member of the cracked head club like me."

The debt ceiling bill passed the House 269-161. The Senate will vote on the measure on Tuesday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug012011

Americans Await Congressional Approval of Debt Ceiling Agreement 

Gavel and American flag(WASHINGTON) -- Nervous Americans from all facets of the political spectrum have been awaiting word from Capitol Hill that the weeks of anxious waiting for a deal to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling are finally over, so America can pay its bills without going into unprecedented default.

A collective sigh of relief was heard Sunday evening when President Obama announced a tentative deal on the debt ceiling.  However, things can still unravel quickly if Tea Party Republicans in the House feel the cuts don’t go far enough, or liberal Democrats feel social programs precious to them are unfairly targeted.

The country has already gone through plenty of drama.  House Republicans last Friday finally agreed to plan by House Speaker John Boehner to lower the national debt and vote on a balanced budget amendment, only to see it turned away by Senate Democrats, who also watched as their own spending reduction plan came up well short of the votes needed for passage.

With the clocking ticking closer toward August 2 and a possible disastrous default, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders seriously started heeding President Obama's urgent call for compromise.
The White House also stressed there were no guarantees that checks to retirees, veterans and American's current military personnel would be mailed after Tuesday unless an agreement was reached.

While specifics about the deal weren’t immediately available, it’s believed that the cuts totaling between $2 trillion and $3 trillion would be divided equally between defense and domestic spending.

Still, all it takes is a combination of 217 House Republicans and Democrats to scuttle the deal and potentially send the economy spiraling downward.

For now, things are looking up.  World markets Monday responded favorably to the agreement and Wall Street is expected to at least partially reverse last week's 500-point loss. Economists, however, aren't entirely sure if the nation's Triple A credit rating is still solid, even if Congress approves the deal.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul282011

Veterans, Servicemembers Worried About Potential Default

US [dot] Army [dot] mil(WASHINGTON) -- As Congress and President Obama debate over the best solution to solve the debt crisis, servicemembers and veterans are worried about the economic impact they will face personally if the nation defaults.

“Right now, our nation teeters on the edge of default and servicemembers and veterans are left concerned and a bit scared,” Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said.  “They don't know what's going to happen Aug. 1.  They don't know what's going to happen Sept. 1.  They don't know if disability checks are coming.   They don't know if paychecks are coming.  They don't know if GI checks are coming and they're extremely concerned.  They're scared.”

“They understand generally where the debate is.  They don't understand the specifics of how it will impact them.  No one’s been able to project with any kind of certainty how they should plan for their next 60 days,” Rieckhoff continued.

Rieckhoff, who served as a platoon leader in Iraq from 2003 to 2004, said members from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America met with officials at the White House on Tuesday but did not receive guidance on how veterans and service members would be directly affected, and Rieckhoff called on Congress to look for ways to prevent a default from occurring.

“Incredible frustration, just devastating disappointment, and it's become demoralizing, not even from folks just here stateside, but overseas.  There's a guy at a checkpoint in Afghanistan right now who doesn't know for certain what's going to happen to him and his family in thirty days.  That is ridiculous, and it is outrageous, and our members are beyond upset.”

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America was founded in 2004 to aid the veterans who return from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Over 2.2 million troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the wars.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said veterans benefits should be “non-negotiable” in the budget negotiations.

“There is no question that we need to make smart decisions to tighten our belts and reduce our nation's debt and deficit, but no matter what fiscal crisis we face, no matter how divided we may be over approaches to cutting our debt and deficit, no matter how heated the rhetoric in Washington, D.C. gets, we must remember that we cannot balance our budget at the expense of the healthcare and benefits our veterans have earned.  Their sacrifices have been too great.  They have done everything that has been asked of them.  They have been separated from their families through repeat deployments.  They have sacrificed life and limb in combat and they have done all of this selflessly and with honor to our country and the commitment we have to them is non-negotiable,” Murray said.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., said Congress should reassess the funding allotted to veterans to ensure it is being used most effectively.

“We must provide the funding needed to support this generation of wounded warriors and continue caring for those who have previously borne the visible and hidden scars of war,” Brown said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jul262011

Debt Talks: Obama Urges Americans to Get Involved, Calls Pour Into Capitol

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama directed Americans to get involved in the debt ceiling debate in his address to the nation Monday night.

Americans, it seems, have obliged.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid received over 600 calls between 8-10 a.m. Tuesday.  His office has six people now working the phones, and they continue to be “inundated.”

“If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know.  If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise, send that message,” Obama said.

Phones have been “off the hook” since the office opened at 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to a Reid staffer.  Another Democratic Senator’s office says they received at least 110 calls Tuesday morning alone -- which is 3-4 times the normal call volume.

It's no different over in the House of Representatives, where an email went out to offices warning lawmakers to give alternate phone numbers to constituents.

“Due to the high volume of external calls, House telephone circuits serving 202-225-XXXX phone numbers are near capacity resulting in outside callers occasionally getting busy signals. Outbound calls are unaffected,” read the email from the House call center.

“During this time offices may wish to provide district office staff and key contacts with an alternate 202-226-XXXX extension, if available, until call volumes subside.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio