After the House passed the debt ceiling deal with a surprising lopsided 269-161 vote, yesterday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill at noon, today. If it passes, it heads to the president's desk and with a signature the debt ceiling is immediately raised by $400 billion. And it would all happen just hours before the day the Treasury said the country would run out of money.
There was lively debate about amending the Constitution to require a balanced budget throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, but the issue seemed to die off in the face of the federal surpluses that marked the end of the Clinton years.
"The reason it fell off the radar screen then is we actually did it," says Robert S. Walker, who served on the House Budget Committee as a Pennsylvania Republican during the Clinton administration. "We simply said, look, if it's not possible to pass the amendment, let's balance the budget."
France has been engaged on numerous military fronts this year as the country's armed forces back up President Nicolas Sarkozy's active foreign policy. The French military's quick success in ousting Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was lauded, but other interventions — like the one in Libya — drag on, leaving many to wonder if public support and the country's budget will be able to keep pace.
Analysts say the French military is in crisis, strained by restructuring and budget cuts, and tested by three simultaneous conflicts abroad.
Drive through northern Pennsylvania and you'll see barns, cows, silos and drilling rigs perched on big, concrete pads.
Pennsylvania is at the center of a natural gas boom. New technology is pushing gas out of huge shale deposits underground. That's created jobs and wealth, but it may be damaging drinking water. That's because when you "frack," as hydraulic fracturing is called, you pump millions of gallons of fluids underground. That cracks the shale a mile deep and drives natural gas up to the surface — gas that otherwise could never be tapped.
The House of Representatives' vote to approve a bill raising the U.S. federal debt ceiling ended weeks of uncertainty and bitter debate. But even as the vote tally came in, the loudest cheers in the chamber were heard when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) made her first appearance on the House floor since she was severely wounded by a gunman in January.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned Syria's use of violence against anti-government protesters, urging Damascus to halt its military attacks on those unhappy with the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In a statement, Ban said that Syrian officials "are accountable under international human rights law for all acts of violence perpetrated by them against the civilian population."
The SEAL mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden was in doubt for around a full minute after one of its helicopters crash-landed at the al-Qaida leader's hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan. That and other details are in Nicholas Schmidle's account of the raid, in a piece in The New Yorker.
Construction projects at airports around the country have stopped and 4,000 employees of the Federal Aviation Administration are furloughed, all because Congress couldn't agree on an extension of the agency's authority to operate.
Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller, who chairs the subcommittee that oversees the FAA, indicates he will offer a plan as soon as Monday night to end the shutdown. Rockefeller's plan includes cuts in air service subsidies to some rural communities.
Those subsidies keep commercial aviation service in rural areas that would otherwise be isolated.
When Heidi Koss picks up her daughter Bronwen from middle school in a Seattle suburb, it's completely routine: They chat about kickball and whether Bronwen ate the muffin her mother packed for breakfast.
But 10 years ago when Bronwen was born, things were anything but ordinary, says Koss.
"I felt nothing toward my baby," says Koss. "One day I woke up and I didn't care about her."
Congress' tentative deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling calls for more than $2 trillion in spending cuts, far short of the $4 trillion in deficit reductions proposed earlier in the process.
And that keeps the doors open to a potential downgrade in the country's credit rating. Of the three major ratings agencies, Standard & Poor's toed the hardest line on a possible downgrade to U.S. debt.
Last month, S&P said there was a 50 percent chance the U.S. could lose its top AAA rating if Congress failed to come up with a "credible agreement to reduce the debt."
The wall in the hallway outside the Redondo Beach Mayor's Office kind of says it all: There is row after row of smiling faces. Almost all male. All pale. Some blond, some gray. All very indicative of what many Americans still think of when you say "California beach city," until the last photo in the last row.
The state of South Carolina has lost a leading light of its Civil Rights transformation, as U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Perry died this past weekend. Perry, who spurred social and educational integration, would have celebrated his 90th birthday this week.
China was probably the world's earliest technological superpower, inventing the plow, the compass, gunpowder and block printing. Then, science in the Middle Kingdom languished for centuries.
Until 1893, the Chinese didn't even have a word for "science." That was when a Japanese term originally made its way into the Chinese language, a symbol of just how much of a latecomer China was to modern science.
NASA's Dawn spacecraft has started beaming back pictures of the second largest body in the Asteroid belt that's between Mars and Jupiter. The images are the first of the asteroid Vesta, which is about the size of Colorado, and they are stunning:
Even though the decision was widely expected, there's no denying the news is still a pretty big deal. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services adopted in full the women's health recommendations issued two weeks ago by the independent Institute of Medicine.
Originally published on Mon August 1, 2011 10:46 am
The independent Congressional Budget Office has finished scoring the budget compromise reached by President Obama and Congressional leaders, yesterday.
In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, the CBO reports that because of budget caps, the legislation would reduce budget deficits by $917 billion between 2012 and 2021 and because of spending cuts, it would reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. That's a $2.1 trillion cut over the next ten years. Using another projection, it found the cuts could amount to at least $2.3 billion.
President Obama and congressional leaders reached an agreement Sunday to avoid a first-ever U.S. default. The plan raises the debt ceiling and cuts more than $2 trillion from government spending over a decade. The Senate is expected to vote on it today. To learn more about the deal, host Michel Martin speaks with U.S. News and World Report's Mary Kate Cary and The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart.
I was trying to keep track of the negotiations over raising the debt ceiling this weekend, and all of a sudden, it reminded me of an incident I had in a parking garage near my house last year.
It was late spring or summer, and it was hot. I had the kids with me, and we were finished doing whatever it was we were doing, and we were ready to go home. We jumped into the car and tried to head out. But we could not.
July was scorching. The National Weather Service says it was the warmest month on record in Washington, D.C.(84.5) Oklahoma City (89.2) and Wichita Falls (92.9). And the stifling heat will continue in the Southern and Central Plains, this week.
But as you wipe that sweat off your brow, think about Dallas. The city is in the midst of a 30-day streak of triple-digit temperatures. That is the second hottest streak in history.
House and Senate leaders prepared for possible votes Monday on the tentative deal to raise the government's debt ceiling and prevent a U.S. default.
Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the votes could come as early as Monday evening, depending on the outcome of meetings with members. Cantor's office said the House would go first.
The agreement gained momentum in the Senate on Monday after months of partisan rancor.