Debt accord elusive as Senate leaders seek U.S. shutdown end

Oct. 17

Representative Tim Huelskamp, a Kansas Republican, played down the importance of this week’s deadline and said the White House “is trying to scare the markets.”

“Oct. 17 is a date that won’t have a major impact unless the White House can create concern about that,” Huelskamp said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Liu called for a new international reserve currency to replace the dollar “so that the international community could permanently stay away from the spillover of the intensifying domestic political turmoil” in the U.S.

Senate Democratic leaders said Collins’s proposed debt- limit increase to January was too short to provide certainty, and her plan’s funding extension at Republican-favored levels, until March, was too long.

The Budget Control Act of 2011 established a $967 billion cap for fiscal 2014, a $21 billion cut compared with the fiscal 2013 level. If Congress doesn’t pass legislation to reduce spending or alter the cap before January, a second round of automatic cuts goes into effect to meet that goal.

Device Tax

Collins’s plan sought to give federal agencies more flexibility under the across-the-board cuts. The plan also would have set a mid-January deadline for longer-term budget talks and made two changes to the president’s health-care plan: delay a tax on medical devices for two years -- making up lost revenue through pension-rule changes -- and requiring the Obama administration to verify income levels for enrollment in health benefits.

A Senate deal probably would face the prospect of a hostile reception from House Republicans still seeking to curtail Obamacare and opposed to easing spending caps.

“We are not going to increase spending,” Representative Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican, said on Fox. “The sequester is one of the few good things we’ve done to control spending.”

Republican strategist Ron Bonjean yesterday described the latest efforts to find a way out of the impasse as “a Rubik’s Cube from hell,” adding that even if the Senate passes a plan, it would be “still pretty much a jump ball in the House.”

“They may simply reject it without offering a Plan B,” Bonjean, a one-time aide to former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, said in a telephone interview.

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