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Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling

October 10,2013

Now that we are into the second week of the shutdown, rhetoric and posturing by the two sides has included, if not entirely turned to, the debt ceiling. On the shutdown, neither side is ceding ground and talk between party leaders has stalled. According to sources close to the debate (i.e. members of the House), a so-called "clean" continuing resolution to fund the government would pass. However, Speaker Boehner continues to assert that such a resolution would not pass and will not bring it to a vote. The speaker has not given details of a strategy to move forward, though speculation continues to tie the continuing resolution to the debt ceiling--a debate around which the speaker may feel he has more leverage. Meanwhile, the House continues to pass piecemeal funding bills with no expected action in the Senate.

That segues into the next topic: the debt ceiling. On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate introduced legislation to lift the debt limit, which is set to expire on or about Oct. 17. The Senate version would suspend the debt-ceiling until Dec. 31, 2014, and would be a clean bill allowing the president to increase the nation's borrowing. In the House, leadership is currently working a bill that would provide for a short-term, 6-week debt-limit increase, and will take this plan to the White House when they meet with President Obama this morning (10/10). It is currently unknown whether or not this would pass the House of Representatives, or if the Senate would accept the legislation.

Additionally, House leadership is working on legislation to create a bicameral working group to talk about all budgetary issues, including the continuing resolution and the debt ceiling. In other words, similar to the supercommittee from two years ago that ended without a fiscal resolution, but did propose the sequester, which was designed to be so heinous that it would force a resolution at a later date--a design that turned out to be flawed because the sides were too entrenched to find a deal. House Democrats have already come out to say they do not want another supercommittee, and they would not participate in something they believe is unnecessary. We will update again as things begin to unfold, but with the shutdown and the debt ceiling being increasingly linked, it looks like resolution may not come this week.

If you have any questions, contact Chris Gould, director of federal government relations at ASTHO