Debt ceiling talks drag on between House and Senate
Leaders in the U.S. House and Senate are working on competing plans to raise the debt ceiling after talks between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner broke down late last week.
According to Hawkings, the two plans differ greatly both in size and scope. The Speaker is now proposing sort of a very limited version of what he and the President were talking about last week, which would be a trillion dollars in spending cuts, coupled with a trillion dollars of additional borrowing power.
The president’s bottom line is to extend the debt ceiling through the next election, says Hawkings.
"He is very eager at this point to make sure that this battle does not resurface before the next election. And the Senate plan by Sen. Reid is quite different. I should hasten to add that we haven’t seen anything on this yet. Some of this is speculating and some of this is just informed speculation based on what we’re told, but that Sen. Reid is expected to put out a plan today that purports to project $2.5 trillion in savings in the next 10 years, without touching entitlements and without raising taxes."
It's unclear how Reid plans to get to such a big number without entitlements or taxes, except we’re told that he's probably going to count unspent money from winding down the two wars that we're already winding down.
With only eight days remaining, and differences in size and scope, lawmakers will need to do a lot of legislative maneuvering to push a deal though.
"I think despite these two plans advancing, there are still some talks to try and get to a unified plan in the middle of the week," says Hawkings. "If not, the House can start moving its bill and the Senate can start moving its bill. We're told that Speaker Boehner can start explaining his plan to House republicans early this afternoon. They might move legislation on the floor of the House as early as tomorrow, and the Senate might do something similar."
Congress’ missed FAA deadline results in 900 furloughs in D.C. area
Washington has been consumed with the debt ceiling negotiations, and because of that, Congress missed a deadline Friday night to pass a bill that reauthorizes the Federal Aviation Administration. Their inaction means furloughs for thousands of employees there, including more than 900 in our area.
According to Hawkings, nothing happened over the weekend that we are aware of.
"It's worth noting on that issue that in addition to 900 people furloughed this morning in the Washington area, it's a fascinating microcosm of a larger budget debate because the whole the thing has grounded to a halt.
It doesn't keep planes out of the sky or affect the air traffic control. What it does affect is contracts, airport improvements, and research at the FAA – non-essential stuff. I think it’s about a $16 million budget cut that the republicans wanted as part of this extension."
In addition to everything else, what it means for today is that the government can't collect $2 million a week in ticket taxes, says Hawkings.