Senate Dems To Try Passing Debt Ceiling Increase
WASHINGTON – Democrats controlling the Senate are planning to try to pass a stand-alone measure to increase the government’s borrowing cap, challenging Republicans to a filibuster showdown that could unnerve financial markets as the deadline to a first-ever default on U.S. obligations draws closer.
A spokesman says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid could unveil the measure as early as today, setting the table for a test vote later in the week.
The measure is expected to provide enough borrowing room to last beyond next year’s election, which means it will likely permit $1 trillion or more in new borrowing above the current $16.7 trillion debt ceiling.
The development came as a partial shutdown of the government enters its second week with no sign of ending.
Shutdown Takes Its Toll On White House Operations
WASHINGTON – The partial government shutdown is taking its toll on the White House, where about 3 out of 4 staffers are being kept off-duty.
Aides on furlough are barred even from checking the BlackBerrys they usually clutch like worry beads.
Of the 1,701 advisers, assistants, number-crunchers, butlers, chefs and landscapers at the White House normally, fewer than 450 are working. That’s because the rest fall under the unfortunate category of “non-essential.”
President Barack Obama’s aides have strived to maintain a sense of normalcy. But the logistical gymnastics of running the federal government’s nerve center with a skeletal staff have created a sense of mild disarray.
Even the White House switchboard has been set to roll over to a prerecorded message. The message says to call back when the government reopens.