As shutdown continues, the debt ceiling looms ?>

As shutdown continues, the debt ceiling looms

On day 10 of the government shutdown, it is unlikely that the government will reopen soon. However, another issue needs to be addressed by October 17, according to U.S. Treasury Secretary, Jacob Lew. Lew warned that if the debt ceiling is not raised, then “irrevocable damage” will occur to the U.S. economy. As a potential solution to the debt ceiling debate, House Republicans issued a statement today saying that they will consider passing a clean bill that temporarily increases the debt ceiling until November 22. In response, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said President Obama would sign a bill that increased the debt ceiling, even though it is short term. Unfortunately, this bill would not end the government shutdown.

If the debt ceiling is increased but the government remains shut down, then scientists will continue to feel the effects. The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation will have limited operations with most workers furloughed. Grant deadlines will be pushed back and grant reviews will continue to be delayed. In addition, live reagents that must clear the U.S. Department of Agriculture customs will not be delivered. As the shutdown continues on, the effects will reverberate through the science community.

UPDATE: President Obama and House Republicans met last night to discuss the debt ceiling and the government shutdown. While no resolution has been agreed upon, both parties are continuing to talk. This suggests a step forward in the process to the government reopening as the discussions mark the first time both sides have sat down for a serious conversation. However, it is becoming a game of cat-and-mouse as both sides are hoping to “win” some part of the deal, suggesting that negotiations may take a long time leaving many government workers furloughed and NIH and NSF operations delayed or fully stopped.

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