- US Policy
The U.S. Congress returns next week from its July 4th holiday break, and representatives then have only three weeks before they leave Washington again for the traditional August recess. Nice work if you can get it. This abbreviated schedule leaves just over 30 legislative days for the Democrats in the House, the Senate Republicans, and...
- US Policy
Congress-White House Fiscal Cliff Discussions Underway
Under the radar, the U.S. Congress and the White House have begun quiet discussions on trying to avoid the fiscal cliff that lies down the road this fall for the federal government. The Feds are facing a triple monetary threat: a need to raise the government’s debt ceiling; pass a budget by October 1, and deal with the mandatory $50 billion and $70 billion in cuts for domestic and defense, respectively, required under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). The White House would like to increase its leverage for spending cuts by removing the threat of a government default and increase the debt ceiling in a separate bill. However, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) Thursday announced she would have none of that plan, that there will be no debt ceiling increase without a budget deal that increases domestic spending. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R) shepherded several debt ceiling and budget deals through the Congress while negotiating with the Obama White House, and he favors a bipartisan deal that increases the BCA caps and suspends the debt ceiling. Under his program, both the BCA caps that lead to sequestered cuts if not raised and the national debt would be included in a two-year plan taking the issues off the table past the 2020 election. McConnell knows a budget crisis never ends well for the party in control and his top priority is preserving the Republican Senate majority in 2020 that includes his seat in Kentucky. On the 2020 Presidential front the Democrats have announced that 20 candidates qualified for the first primary debates June 26 and 27, and that three announced candidates didn’t qualify.