The clock is ticking and still no debt deal

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada (R) and US Senator Chuck Schumer stand near a placard during a press conference on Capitol Hill about the debt ceiling in Washington, DC, October 12, 2013.

The gridlock continues this morning in Washington, with no agreement to re-open the federal government or raise the debt ceiling. And the Thursday deadline looms. 

The ceiling is a limit on how much money the federal government can borrow. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says the country will run out of money on Thursday. Lew says if the debt limit isn't lifted by then, he'll have to rely on money coming in from taxes and fees to pay the bills. There won't be enough cash, and there are a lot of bills to pay. The U.S. has some huge payouts on November 1 -- to Social Security recipients, Medicare providers -- as well as its obligations to its troops. The country also needs money to keep running the parts of government that are still open -- like the FAA and Justice Department.

And there's now a bid to put something else on the negotiating table. Lawmakers have been clashing over Obamacare, the federal budget, and the debt ceiling. But now, sequestration --  the automatic, across the board cuts in federal spending -- is being re-injected into the debate.

Democrats only want the current sequestration cuts to last for about another month, through mid-November. Republicans want them to continue on for as long as possible.

About the author

Nancy Marshall-Genzer is a senior reporter for Marketplace based in Washington, D.C. covering daily news.


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