Congress has flirted with a potential collision over the nation’s debt ceiling. This is the label that opponents of a debt ceiling increase got from the White House on Monday night. This is the warning from CNN’s Kate Bolduan that sparked some heated discussion about the debt ceiling on the Situation Room Tuesday.
In response to that, we’ve been catching up with congressional Democrats and Republicans on all the fronts, including immigration reform, transportation projects, funding the government, closing Gitmo, and moving forward on an arms treaty with Russia. Let’s start with the debt ceiling.
Last night, President Barack Obama took to the Rose Garden to warn Republicans to stop being reckless when it comes to the debt ceiling, or risk the U.S. defaulting on its debt obligations. “You don’t have to be a math whiz to figure out that the United States is in a far better position to pay its bills on time, or to pay its bills on time, than would be Greece.”
Republicans called the White House’s statement “irresponsible,” especially because the Congressional Budget Office predicts that the “unsustainable debt trajectory would have to be reversed through major deficit reduction measures.”
But don’t blame them for acting recklessly. Blame it on the President, who has consistently refused to engage in negotiations with Republicans and won’t negotiate on the debt ceiling.
This week, the House began marking up legislation to increase the debt ceiling. To read more about the story behind that story, stay tuned.
· STARTING WITH JIM?
Over the last few weeks, it’s become clear that Congress could be headed toward a full-blown feud with Iran over the ‘sanctity of life.’ The debate is essentially over President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and whether the White House has treated Congress too much like a partner in the negotiations.
On the Republican side, conservatives are appealing to their base to take Congress into recess until Obama comes to the table and starts negotiating with Congress. Yet many Democrats are calling for Congress to remain in session for as long as it takes to resolve the growing controversy over the nuclear deal.
But have lawmakers had an impact on influencing a deal? President Obama is being lobbied by a diverse coalition of allies, including former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who argued in the Washington Post that the President should negotiate with Congress to forge a tough nuclear deal. But former Secretary of State William Perry warned that the President risked blowing a good deal for the U.S. and its allies by approaching it too slowly.
We’ve been focusing on whether Obama is giving a hint that he might make a deal with Congress, or whether he just doesn’t want to hear talk about the subject. So what has the reaction been from Republicans to President Obama’s position? One source told us that Republicans believe that by not negotiating with Congress, the White House is effectively making a deal to avoid discussing Iran.
But it might be too soon to answer that question, and we’ll talk more about that over the next few days.
· ONE OF THE “PACKERS.”
Republican House members are also pressing forward on their failure to pass a farm bill. They blame Obama for the impasse, and want the President to intervene in the dispute. On Tuesday, the president gave the GOP a public boost.
If only Obama could force Congress to pass a budget. Republican leaders have a plan to move through the House, but not through the Senate. As things stand now, lawmakers can’t even vote on the budget. All they can do is sue the president.
We’re also catching up with a quick note of chicken this week.
On Tuesday, some $420 million in chicken was shipped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to China.
As of late Monday, we had trouble getting answers to questions we’ve been trying to get answers to for months about what kind of security was on those crates that were being inspected in China. That’s the chicken that came to the U.S.
However, officials say that with fresh chicken prices at an all-time high, there are plenty of options for China to source chickens elsewhere.