Members of the House of Representatives return to Washington this week after a week off. They face a number of pressing issues, including debates about extending the debt ceiling and funding the federal government. All of that has prompted more threats of a government shutdown, which of course would have serious ramifications for federal employees and contracts in our area. David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing, gives and analysis of the issues.
On how serious Republican threats of a government shutdown is this winter: "I have to say that this seems pretty serious. The rank and file Republicans are in somewhat of a more different and confrontational place than their leadership, which is where things were when the so-called fiscal cliff crisis was averted just after the last minute on New Year's. Speaker Boehner has set a very strict line in the sand. He says that he will not allow the debt limit to raise... his standard is a dollar of new borrowing authority for every dollar of spending cuts that the president permits. The president says he's not going to play that game. He's not going to negotiate the debt ceiling increase in the context of a budget deal."
On Reps. Gerry Connolly and Elijah Cummings holding a forum in Woodbridge to talk about election reform: "This seems to be somewhat of a parochial issue in our area. Yes, there were some big challenges at the polls in Virginia on Election Day. There does not seem to be equivalent problems for very many other states. The Congress did a rather comprehensive overhaul of election law after the disputed presidential election of 2000. It doesn't seem like this will become a top-tier issue this fall.
On Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia announcing he will not seek reelection in 2014: "He is emblematic of a generational turnover. Those who wonder about congressional term limits should be reminded that in the last six years, I think we now have 40 of the 100 senators that are in Washington are new to the Senate, just in the last six years. And so Jay Rockefeller will have been in public life for half a century. He will have been a senator for 30 years next year. He is not in the best health. And life as a senator is not any more fun for him than any other senator in this partisan era.