With fiscal cliff averted, U.S. lawmakers brace for next budget battle
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
Congress may have averted an economic crisis just in the nick of time last week, but they're still not in the clear. Lawmakers are already gearing up for another fight over the debt ceiling.
The U.S. Treasury has taken "extraordinary measures" to keep the government running—now operating through $200 billion in emergency borrowing authority.
"The government has hit that allowable limit of borrowing," Sarah Binder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said.
The U.S. reached that limit on New Year's Eve. According to the Bipartisan Policy Center, the government will be unable to pay all of its bills by as early as Feb. 15, so the president will need Congress to raise that debt limit.
However, Republicans say they will not do that without receiving spending cuts in return.
"I want to raise the debt ceiling, but I will not do it without a plan to get out of debt," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday.
It's shaping up to be a repeat of the 2011 debt ceiling fight which led to the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, something experts like Binder says lawmakers should do their best to avoid.
"Many people disagree that the debt ceiling is the way to make those changes,” Binder said. “Why not make them over entitlements themselves as opposed to taking hostage this ceiling that essentially puts at risk the government to default. That's not something to be played lightly with."
President Obama has said he won't engage in another debate over the debt ceiling.
"The president expects that Congress will fulfill its essential responsibility to pay the bills that Congress has incurred," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.
But Obama may not be able to avoid the fight.
"In reality yes, he has to grapple with congress and the question of how it's going to be raised. I think he just doesn't want to pay a price, a direct price for it," Binder said.