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Entries in Debt Limit (5)

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

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

Friday
Jul222011

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg: US Default Would Damage 'America's Word'

The City of New York(NEW YORK) -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes America's reputation as the most reliable financial standard would be at risk if the U.S. does not raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2, and he is willing to see his taxes increase in order to reach a long-term budget agreement.

"I don't think anybody will look ever again at America and the dollar as the reserve currency, where this is the standard by which all other risks are measured," if the U.S. defaults on its debt obligations, Bloomberg told This Week anchor Christiane Amanpour. "It's one seismic event that says you can never depend 100 percent on America's word anymore."

"The world won't come to an end," Bloomberg added. "We will find a way to pay people afterwards and get government going again, but it puts a doubt in the back of people's minds that you would find it very difficult to erase."

Bloomberg does not believe that spending cuts alone should make up the final budget deal still being negotiated, insisting that revenue increases must be part of the equation.

"You can't cut enough to balance the budget, and you have to if we're going to eliminate the deficit and reduce the debt," Bloomberg said. "You have to raise money from someplace."

The billionaire mayor said that he is willing to see his own taxes go up as part of a long-term deal to reduce the deficit.

"I get pretty good value for my taxes. ... We get a lot for our tax dollars," Bloomberg said. "I don't want to pay any more taxes than is necessary, but I do want the services, and I want us to live within our means. So, if we want more services, we've got to come up with the revenue."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov082010

$14 Trillion Fiscal Challenge Faces GOP

(WASHINGTON) -- Representative John Boehner, Photo Courtesy US House of RepresentativesA stern test of fiscal discipline almost immediately faces Republicans who took control of the House of Representatives last week with vows to cut federal spending.  Congress is set to raise the country’s debt limit yet again.

The debate is already raging over what to do. Neither option -- refusing to raise the debt ceiling and risking a fiscal crisis versus relenting and risking alienating voters who entrusted the GOP to tighten the purse-strings -- is politically attractive.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn said in a Washington Examiner op-ed Friday “If Republicans vote to raise the debt without insisting on spending cuts, whatever credibility we may have will be gone.”

But Representative John Boehner, the likely new Speaker of the House, told ABC’s Diane Sawyer Thursday that there are “multiple options” for how to deal with the debt limit.  “Increasing the debt limit allows our government to meet its obligations,” he noted. “And I think that there are multiple options for how you deal with it. But for our team, I think we’re going to have to demonstrate that we’ve got to have reductions in spending. The government’s spending more than what we bring in. We can’t afford it.”

At this point experts say it appears Congress will have to raise the debt ceiling  early next year. The national debt is fast approaching the limit of $14.29 trillion.

Raising the limit is easier said than done.  Just look at the last time Congress voted to increase it. Last February, the Senate vote fell strictly along party lines, with all 60 Senate Democrats supporting the raise and all 39 Senate Republicans opposing it. Come next year, the Democratic majority in the Senate will have shrunk to 53.

If Congress were to refuse to increase the debt limit, the consequences could be severe for the global financial system. Think of the debt ceiling like the limit on your credit card. If you max out, your life doesn’t automatically shut down, but you do have to find other means of funding, such as borrowing cash from family and friends or selling belongings. The government, for instance, could continue operating with cash on hand or cash coming in. Or it could can postpone or delay paying certain obligations, such as payments to contractors. But resorting to moves like that sends an unnerving message to the rest of the world.

While election momentum might be on the side of Republicans, history is on the Democrats’ side. No Congress has ever voted against approving an increase in the debt ceiling.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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