CHINA

China’s Problems Will Outlast Olympic Games

After the Olympic flame flickers out, China will wake up to major challenges in its economy, in energy supplies, in the environment, and in diplomacy.

National Journal
Bruce Stokes
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Bruce Stokes
Aug. 1, 2008, 8 p.m.

BEIJING—The stu­dents who packed a sem­in­ar room at China For­eign Af­fairs Uni­versity, the train­ing ground for the coun­try’s next gen­er­a­tion of dip­lo­mats, were ex­ceed­ingly bright, dis­arm­ingly ar­tic­u­late in Eng­lish, and re­fresh­ingly out­spoken. Es­chew­ing small talk, they pressed vis­it­ing for­eign journ­al­ists about West­ern news cov­er­age of events in Tibet, and they com­plained that news pho­to­graphs were be­ing doctored be­cause of anti-Chinese bi­as abroad.

Chal­lenged about her na­tion­al­ist­ic sen­ti­ments, one young wo­man shot back: “It’s not na­tion­al­ism, it’s pat­ri­ot­ism.”

Chinese pride in the coun­try’s ac­com­plish­ments and its fu­ture pro­spects is likely to be on full dis­play in mid-Au­gust as Beijing hosts the 2008 Sum­mer Olympics. But such pat­ri­ot­ic sen­ti­ment is not simply a byproduct of Olympic eu­phor­ia. In the run-up to the Games, the Chinese gov­ern­ment has stoked na­tion­al­ism to shift pub­lic at­ten­tion from Beijing’s mis­hand­ling of the Sichuan earth­quake, dis­tract people from the slow­ing eco­nomy, and help rally China’s bur­geon­ing middle class to the rul­ing Com­mun­ist Party.

“For much of the last half-cen­tury,” ob­served Jef­frey Bader, dir­ect­or of the China Cen­ter at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion in Wash­ing­ton, “Chinese na­tion­al­ism has been a de­fens­ive, wounded phe­nomen­on. Some­where in the last dec­ade, na­tion­al­ism has trans­formed it­self in­to a much more self-con­fid­ent, ag­gress­ive na­tion­al­ism. One hears less about the cen­tury of hu­mi­li­ation and more that ‘We are ready to take our place in the world.’ It’s a dif­fer­ent kind of na­tion­al­ism.”

How a rising China deals with its chan­ging role in the world—in­clud­ing de­fin­ing what it means for China to be a re­spons­ible stake­hold­er in the glob­al sys­tem and un­der­stand­ing the dis­con­nect between the Chinese people’s view of them­selves and the world’s view of China—is but one of the four ma­jor chal­lenges that Beijing faces once the Olympic flame flick­ers out. The eco­nomy is next; it has slowed sharply in re­cent months, and China’s met­eor­ic growth over the past dec­ade has left troub­ling eco­nom­ic dis­tor­tions. The polit­ic­al sys­tem is No. 3 on the list; it is pro­foundly cor­rupt, is in­creas­ingly dys­func­tion­al, and faces mount­ing pub­lic un­rest. And fi­nally, so­ci­ety faces en­ergy and en­vir­on­ment­al con­straints of un­pre­ced­en­ted pro­por­tions.

These are not just Beijing’s prob­lems. They will also be Wash­ing­ton’s. After years on the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion’s back­burn­er, China and the chal­lenges it faces will be one of the prin­cip­al for­eign-policy tests of the next U.S. pres­id­ent.

A Slow­ing Eco­nomy

After five years of eco­nom­ic growth that ex­ceeded 10 per­cent an­nu­ally and led to a near-doub­ling of per cap­ita in­come, the Chinese people could not be hap­pi­er with their eco­nomy. Eight in 10 Chinese ex­pressed sat­is­fac­tion with their coun­try’s dir­ec­tion, ac­cord­ing to the 2008 Pew Glob­al At­ti­tudes sur­vey. Among the 24 na­tions that Pew sur­veyed, the Chinese were the most sat­is­fied with the way things were go­ing in their coun­try.

Nev­er­the­less, signs of pub­lic un­ease are emer­ging, and Beijing may have some good reas­ons to fret about the na­tion’s eco­nom­ic fu­ture. In­fla­tion is a “very big” prob­lem for a whop­ping 72 per­cent of the Chinese pop­u­la­tion, ac­cord­ing to Pew. And 41 per­cent of Chinese think that eco­nom­ic in­equal­ity is a “very big” prob­lem. Moreover, pub­lic ex­pect­a­tions seem out of touch with eco­nom­ic pro­spects: 32 per­cent of those sur­veyed thought that eco­nom­ic con­di­tions in China would “im­prove a lot” over the next year.

Such hopes could be dashed as the eco­nomy’s wide­spread prob­lems likely worsen in the months ahead. Eco­nom­ic growth has slowed from a high of 11.9 per­cent in the second quarter of 2007 to 10.1 per­cent in the second quarter of 2008. Stand­ard Chartered Bank in Shang­hai pro­jects 9.9 per­cent growth this year and only 8.6 per­cent growth next year.

Most gov­ern­ments would ransom their na­tion­al her­it­age for such eco­nom­ic per­form­ance. But for China’s Com­mun­ist Party lead­er­ship, whose le­git­im­acy has be­come in­ex­tric­ably linked with the eco­nomy’s good for­tune, any slow­down is un­nerv­ing.

“If you are sit­ting in Beijing,” said Nich­olas Lardy, a seni­or fel­low at the Peterson In­sti­tute for In­ter­na­tion­al Eco­nom­ics in Wash­ing­ton, “you have to be wor­ried that the glob­al slow­down has not been that bad yet and we still have lost 2 per­cent­age points of growth. They have to be ask­ing them­selves, ‘How vul­ner­able are we go­ing to be if the slow­down is deep­er and longer?’ “

Ac­cord­ing to Douglas Paal, vice pres­id­ent for stud­ies at the Carne­gie En­dow­ment for In­ter­na­tion­al Peace in Wash­ing­ton, Beijing is wor­ried about a fin­an­cial bust after the Olympics, once in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing for the Games ends and prop­erty spec­u­la­tion driv­en by Olympic en­thu­si­asm cools. The stock mar­ket has already fallen pre­cip­it­ously, and fur­ther de­clines could un­der­mine con­sumer con­fid­ence and spend­ing.

In the long term, des­pite its re­cent phe­nom­en­al strength, the Chinese eco­nomy faces pro­found struc­tur­al prob­lems. The coun­try’s cur­rent-ac­count sur­plus, which in­cludes mer­chand­ise trade re­ceipts and cap­it­al in­flows, equaled 11.1 per­cent of gross do­mest­ic product last year, up dra­mat­ic­ally from 1.7 per­cent in 2000. Amer­ic­ans, frus­trated by a seem­ingly in­tract­able trade de­fi­cit, might find such suc­cess en­vi­able, but for the Chinese this un­pre­ced­en­ted eco­nom­ic im­bal­ance is a head­ache.

All of this for­eign money flood­ing in­to the Chinese mar­ket stokes the coun­try’s in­fla­tion rate, now run­ning at 7.9 per­cent. To soak up the cash, the gov­ern­ment sells bonds. As a res­ult, for­eign-ex­change re­serves, much of it in U.S. dol­lars, have now more than doubled in the past four years. And with the dol­lar’s weak­en­ing, Beijing is los­ing money. To ease the cur­rent-ac­count sur­plus and cool in­fla­tion, China has let its cur­rency, the ren­min­bi, ap­pre­ci­ate about 15 per­cent across the board. But even great­er ap­pre­ci­ation is needed to cor­rect the im­bal­ance.

That, however, would threaten to price some Chinese ex­ports out of world mar­kets. Already, ex­port growth has slowed. This con­trac­tion trans­lates in­to less job cre­ation and risks polit­ic­al dis­con­tent in a so­ci­ety that has be­come ac­cus­tomed to cre­at­ing 30,000 jobs per day.

Des­pite China’s eco­nom­ic suc­cess and press re­ports of rising wages, sat­is­fac­tion with house­hold in­come has im­proved only mod­estly in re­cent years, ac­cord­ing to the Pew sur­vey. This frus­tra­tion re­flects the fact that, as a pro­por­tion of the en­tire eco­nomy, house­hold in­comes in China are ac­tu­ally de­clin­ing. Con­sump­tion as a por­tion of GDP is well be­low the av­er­age for the past three dec­ades and is sig­ni­fic­antly less than the re­cent ex­per­i­ence of oth­er Asi­an coun­tries.

If eco­nom­ic growth is to re­main ro­bust, eco­nom­ists con­tend that more Chinese must be­ne­fit from the coun­try’s suc­cess, that mar­ket-ori­ented re­forms are needed to en­cour­age a wider avail­ab­il­ity of con­sumer ser­vices, and that the gov­ern­ment must boost spend­ing on health care and pen­sions to re­as­sure the people that they don’t have to save so much. (The cur­rent house­hold sav­ings rate ex­ceeds 20 per­cent.)

Pub­lic dis­sat­is­fac­tion with house­hold in­come is polit­ic­al dy­nam­ite. “Peace in the cit­ies is main­tained by the be­lief that up­ward mo­bil­ity is hap­pen­ing,” said Ken­neth Lieber­th­al, a pro­fess­or at the Uni­versity of Michigan. “If this is lost, there could be a so­cial ex­plo­sion.”

Pol­lu­tion Prob­lems

Grow­ing en­vir­on­ment­al and en­ergy prob­lems are cloud­ing China’s pro­spects for con­tin­ued eco­nom­ic growth. “They have missed an op­por­tun­ity to jump-start their en­vir­on­ment­al ef­fort via the Olympics,” said Liz Eco­nomy, dir­ect­or of Asi­an stud­ies at the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions in New York City. “When they ex­hale after the Games, they will be fa­cing the same range of prob­lems.”

The im­me­di­ate chal­lenges are air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion and loc­al wa­ter short­ages. Six­teen of the world’s 20 most pol­luted cit­ies are in China, with par­tic­u­late and sul­fur di­ox­ide levels among the highest any­where. Find­ing clean wa­ter is an even great­er chal­lenge. Of China’s 640 largest urb­an areas, at least 100 face severe wa­ter scarcity. The wa­ter table un­der the north China plain is fall­ing rap­idly, and a num­ber of rivers are be­ing pumped dry. China spends $100 bil­lion a year to treat dirty wa­ter and find clean wa­ter, a cap­it­al ex­pendit­ure second only to real es­tate in­vest­ment. This is costly to both the eco­nomy and hu­man health.

The good news for Beijing is that eight in 10 Chinese now agree that the gov­ern­ment should make en­vir­on­ment­al pro­tec­tion a pri­or­ity, even if it leads to slower eco­nom­ic growth and some job losses, ac­cord­ing to the Pew sur­vey.

The bad news is the in­her­ent dif­fi­culty in get­ting the Chinese polit­ic­al sys­tem to curb pol­lu­tion. At the town­ship and vil­lage levels, the per­form­ance eval­u­ation cri­ter­ia for loc­al lead­ers, their like­li­hood for pro­mo­tion, and their op­por­tun­it­ies for kick­backs have long de­pended on pro­mot­ing eco­nom­ic growth. These of­fi­cials re­ceive few re­wards for curb­ing pol­lu­tion. So a wastewa­ter treat­ment plant may get built, be­cause that shows up as loc­al in­vest­ment and job cre­ation. But it may nev­er be used, be­cause day-to-day op­er­a­tions cost money.

Moreover, while en­vir­on­ment­al­ists in China tout their new­found abil­ity to sue pol­luters or gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who have not en­forced en­vir­on­ment­al reg­u­la­tions, act­iv­ists ac­know­ledge that they sel­dom win such cases and, if they do, the judg­ments nev­er seem to get en­forced.

Re­source Con­straints

China’s eco­nom­ic boom has also cre­ated an al­most in­sa­ti­able thirst for en­ergy. In the 1980s and ‘90s, the na­tion’s en­ergy use grew at less than half the rate of eco­nom­ic growth, but in this dec­ade con­sump­tion has grown faster than the eco­nomy, out­strip­ping do­mest­ic en­ergy sup­plies. Once a net ex­port­er of coal, China is now a net im­port­er. Its oil im­ports grew 12.7 per­cent in the first five months of this year, and China now im­ports more than 47 per­cent of the pet­ro­leum it con­sumes.

This grow­ing de­pend­ence on for­eign oil has led Beijing farther and farther afield in search of se­cure sup­plies. By the Brit­ish gov­ern­ment’s count, China has 32 agree­ments with oil-pro­du­cing coun­tries. Beijing is slowly real­iz­ing that the in­terests of the Chinese state oil com­pan­ies may clash with na­tion­al for­eign-policy con­cerns. This scramble for re­sources threatens to en­mesh the Chinese in even more polit­ic­al quag­mires than the ones in which they already find them­selves, most not­ably in Su­dan but also in An­gola, Ni­ger­ia, and Venezuela. In 2007, nine Chinese oil work­ers were killed in south­ern Ethiopia. Such dangers will only grow in the years ahead, and the Chinese pub­lic’s de­mands that Beijing de­fend the coun­try’s work­ers and in­terests over­seas will not be far be­hind.

“They are ob­sessed with hav­ing equity stakes in re­sources so that the in­ter­na­tion­al mar­ket can­not cut them off,” said Harry Hard­ing, a pro­fess­or of in­ter­na­tion­al af­fairs at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­versity. “And they are blind to the risk they run in the eyes of the world by seem­ing to sup­port odi­ous re­gimes.”

Curb­ing en­ergy use will re­quire swal­low­ing some bit­ter eco­nom­ic medi­cine. China shields con­sumers from the full brunt of oil costs by con­trolling re­tail en­ergy prices. That sub­sidy could equal about 1.2 per­cent of China’s GDP this year, or more than $70 bil­lion. Al­low­ing prices to rise would en­cour­age more-ef­fi­cient en­ergy use, and some ob­serv­ers think that Beijing may be ready to make that move, as­sum­ing that the Olympics go well. Tak­ing that money out of con­sumers’ pock­ets, however, could de­press their spend­ing in the short run, fur­ther slow­ing the eco­nomy.

Beijing is also fa­cing grow­ing pres­sure to curb its emis­sions of car­bon di­ox­ide, the prin­cip­al glob­al-warm­ing gas. China gen­er­ates more CO2 than any oth­er coun­try and ac­coun­ted for more than three-fifths of the growth in such emis­sions world­wide between 2001 and 2007. Both the European Uni­on and the United States have threatened to pen­al­ize im­ports of car­bon-in­tens­ive Chinese products if Beijing does not re­duce such emis­sions. But with 70 per­cent of its car­bon di­ox­ide emis­sions re­leased by in­dustry, com­pared with less than 25 per­cent in the United States, re­du­cing CO2 could cur­tail Chinese eco­nom­ic growth.

“This is an is­sue that is fraught with per­il,” said Tre­vor Houser, a part­ner in the Rho­di­um Group, an in­ter­na­tion­al con­sult­ing firm. And cor­rect­ive ac­tion has little sup­port from the Chinese pub­lic, only 24 per­cent of whom think that glob­al warm­ing is a very ser­i­ous prob­lem, the low­est level of such con­cern in the world, ac­cord­ing to the Pew sur­vey.

Polit­ic­al Le­git­im­acy

“We are in the sixth in­ning of Hu Jintao’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, and he has yet to hit a home run,” said Minxin Pei, a seni­or as­so­ci­ate at the Carne­gie En­dow­ment for In­ter­na­tion­al Peace in Wash­ing­ton. “People will soon be ask­ing, ‘What is his leg­acy?’ And the Olympics will not do it.”

Gov­ern­ment spend­ing has in­creased un­der Hu, but pub­lic ex­pect­a­tions have grown even faster. “Their en­tire polit­ic­al struc­ture rests on the fact that next year will be bet­ter for my fam­ily than this year, and that re­quires 8 to 10 per­cent growth rates to achieve,” said Charles Free­man, who holds the Free­man chair in China stud­ies at the Cen­ter for Stra­tegic and In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies in Wash­ing­ton. “If you can’t de­liv­er on those growth rates, that un­der­mines the le­git­im­acy of the gov­ern­ment.”

In the Pew sur­vey, only 28 per­cent of those Chinese ques­tioned op­posed re­cent gov­ern­ment-led eco­nom­ic re­forms. People in that minor­ity are dis­gruntled, however, and they have luke­warm views about the job that Beijing is do­ing on the is­sues that mat­ter most to them. They are more likely than oth­ers to voice wor­ries about un­em­ploy­ment, con­di­tions for work­ers, edu­ca­tion, and health care. Over­all, 39 per­cent of all Chinese con­sider cur­rent levels of cor­rup­tion a “very big” prob­lem.

In­creas­ingly, this dis­gruntle­ment has spilled over in­to the streets. The cent­ral gov­ern­ment ac­know­ledges that the num­ber of “mass in­cid­ents”—everything from neigh­bor­hood ral­lies to pitched battles with po­lice—skyrock­eted from 8,700 in 1993 to 74,000 in 2004.

These dis­turb­ances have largely oc­curred in small towns and rur­al areas, en­abling Beijing to con­tain the un­rest, so far. But re­cent demon­stra­tions in Cheng­du against the build­ing of a chem­ic­al plant and in Shang­hai op­pos­ing a high-speed train sug­gest that “an edu­cated, rising middle-class elite are push­ing for a lar­ger voice in the polit­ic­al pro­cess,” said Liz Eco­nomy of the Coun­cil on For­eign Re­la­tions.

With the chaos that led to mil­lions of deaths dur­ing the Great Leap For­ward and the Cul­tur­al Re­volu­tion still fresh in their minds, China’s new middle class deeply fears in­stabil­ity and the loss of what it has so re­cently se­cured. So, “it will take the Chinese middle class longer to get polit­ic­ally in­volved,” pre­dicted Dav­id Lamp­ton, dir­ect­or of the China stud­ies pro­gram at the School of Ad­vanced In­ter­na­tion­al Stud­ies at Johns Hop­kins Uni­versity in Wash­ing­ton. “But it’s a ques­tion of tim­ing rather than it not hap­pen­ing.”

Steps to­ward demo­crat­iz­a­tion in China’s rur­al areas were sup­posed to re­lease the buildup in this polit­ic­al pres­sure cook­er. In­stead, the vil­lage and town­ship elec­tions in­sti­tuted in some parts of China in 1988 have been hal­ted be­cause of cor­rup­tion. In their place, the gov­ern­ment is ex­per­i­ment­ing with what it calls con­sultat­ive or de­lib­er­at­ive demo­cracy: pub­lic hear­ings to identi­fy is­sues of loc­al con­cern and the choice of lower-level party lead­ers through pub­lic opin­ion polls.

“The Com­mun­ist Party has been pretty adroit at re­in­vent­ing it­self since 1990,” said the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion’s Bader, “and it will con­tin­ue to do so in a way that is more trans­par­ent and ac­count­able.” The Chinese pub­lic’s pro­found aver­sion to in­stabil­ity af­fords the gov­ern­ment time to build a demo­cracy with Chinese char­ac­ter­ist­ics. But that time ho­ri­zon may be fi­nite.

The Stake­hold­er Dis­con­nect

The next U.S. pres­id­ent is likely to dis­cov­er that his greatest dif­fi­culties with China stem from Beijing’s struggle to find its place in the world.

A pro­found dis­con­nect ex­ists between how the Chinese see them­selves and their role in the world, and how the world views them. Three in four Chinese think that people in oth­er coun­tries have a fa­vor­able opin­ion of China. In fact, ac­cord­ing to the Pew sur­vey, ma­jor­it­ies in only sev­en of 23 coun­tries have a pos­it­ive opin­ion of China. And, in the 21 na­tions where trends from last year are avail­able, China’s fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ing has ac­tu­ally de­clined in nine and in­creased in only two. It stayed the same in the 10 oth­ers.

Over­whelm­ing ma­jor­it­ies in 15 of the 23 coun­tries that Pew sur­veyed also see China’s grow­ing mil­it­ary power as a bad thing. Al­though a ma­jor­ity of Chinese say that their eco­nomy’s im­pact on oth­er coun­tries is pos­it­ive, ma­jor­it­ies or plur­al­it­ies in 10 of the na­tions polled by Pew, in­clud­ing some of China’s ma­jor trad­ing part­ners, think that China’s might is harm­ful to oth­er eco­nom­ies.

In a sign that Chinese be­ha­vi­or abroad is also en­gen­der­ing the kind of re­sent­ment once only gen­er­ated by Amer­ic­an for­eign policy, ma­jor­it­ies in 14 of the 23 na­tions be­lieve that China acts uni­lat­er­ally on the world stage. The Chinese, however, see it oth­er­wise: Eight in 10 say that their coun­try takes in­to ac­count the in­terests of oth­er na­tions when mak­ing for­eign-policy de­cisions.

In 2005, then-Deputy U.S. Sec­ret­ary of State Robert Zoel­lick called on the Chinese to be­come what he termed “re­spons­ible stake­hold­ers” in the in­ter­na­tion­al sys­tem. This term has stuck; the prob­lem is in get­ting the Chinese and the rest of the world to agree on ex­actly how China’s in­terests can be ac­com­mod­ated without it run­ning rampant over the in­terests of oth­er ma­jor glob­al stake­hold­ers.

“The ori­gin­al for­mu­la­tion of the ‘re­spons­ible stake­hold­er’ concept was si­lent on the ques­tion of which Chinese in­terests were le­git­im­ate and de­serving of re­spect,” notes Phil­lip Saun­ders, a seni­or re­search fel­low at the Na­tion­al De­fense Uni­versity in Wash­ing­ton. “The United States will not be able to ig­nore this ques­tion forever.”

The Uni­versity of Michigan’s Lieber­th­al agreed. “[Barack] Obama or [John] Mc­Cain will con­front a China that sees the value of the cur­rent sys­tem and wants to play a sig­ni­fic­ant role as a de­veloper of the rules,” he said. “That is very much in the U.S. in­terest. But China’s val­ues are not our val­ues.”

Wheth­er Beijing’s per­cep­tion of re­spons­ible be­ha­vi­or cor­res­ponds to or clashes with Wash­ing­ton’s could be made pain­fully clear very soon over Taiwan. Beijing and the new Taipei gov­ern­ment have re­cently made great strides in im­prov­ing ties. But the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion is about to make a long-delayed de­cision on arms sales to Taiwan. The tim­ing of that move, which mil­it­ary tech­no­lo­gies are in­cluded in that pack­age, and how the main­land re­sponds will set the con­text for the ever-volat­ile Taiwan is­sue in the next U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“This is a short-term de­cision that has lots of knock-on res­ults that will either fa­cil­it­ate or make more dif­fi­cult China get­ting more in­ter­na­tion­al co­oper­a­tion on a range of is­sues,” Lamp­ton said.

Chinese na­tion­al­ism is also a wild card in the coun­try’s fu­ture re­la­tions with the rest of the world. “The Chinese have a pre­cari­ous sense of self-con­fid­ence that can be eas­ily of­fen­ded and pro­voked in­to an­ger,” warned Carne­gie’s Paal. As a res­ult, his Carne­gie col­league Pei said, “the Chinese gov­ern­ment has to ap­peal to an as­sert­ive, vo­cal do­mest­ic audi­ence by pro­ject­ing a for­eign policy that de­fends na­tion­al pride at the same time it is try­ing to show the world that it is a re­spons­ible stake­hold­er. This is in­creas­ingly dif­fi­cult.”

The Olympics have pre­oc­cu­pied the Chinese and their lead­er­ship for the past few years, and over the next few weeks the Games will crowd out all oth­er news on China. How the Olympics play out—wheth­er they are the rous­ing tri­umph and entry of the new China onto the world stage that Beijing hopes, or wheth­er they are marred by short­com­ings and em­bar­rass­ing demon­stra­tions—will ob­vi­ously set the tone both do­mest­ic­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally for China for some time to come. Once the ath­letes march out of the Olympic sta­di­um, the fun­da­ment­al chal­lenges that China faces—eco­nom­ic­ally, en­vir­on­ment­ally, polit­ic­ally, and dip­lo­mat­ic­ally—will be the same dif­fi­culties that China faced when the Olympic teams trooped in. How Beijing copes with these prob­lems will de­term­ine how big an agenda item China be­comes on the next U.S. pres­id­ent’s cal­en­dar.

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2 days ago
BREAKING

Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.

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