As the end of 2013 approaches, the Washington Examiner is taking a look back at the biggest stories and issues of the year. Today, it's congressional battles over the federal budget.
2013 saw the first government shutdown in 17 years, starting Oct. 1. The standoff between President Obama, the Democratic-led Senate and the GOP-held House dragged on until just before the Oct. 17 debt ceiling, when the two sides finally reached an agreement.
Here are some of the top Examiner stories of 2013 on budget fights:
Path to government shutdown paved with partisan intentions
By Rebecca Berg, Oct. 4
As the clock ticked down to the first government shutdown in 17 years, Democrats and Republicans could hardly even agree about what they were disagreeing on.
Back to square one and out of ideas, House Republicans decided to call on the Senate to join a bipartisan conference committee to iron out chasmic differences over the bill. The House Rules Committee met at the 11th hour, literally, to review the latest bill, and emotions boiled over.
“At this point there is no way to avoid a shutdown, and that's on your shoulders,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., pointing at his Republican colleagues.
Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., was even more blunt.
“You all have just lost it,” he said.
The rancor wasn’t just for show. Lawmakers were in an ideological stalemate.
GOP says fight over debt limit not just about spending
By David M. Drucker, Oct. 11
As the shutdown dragged on, a new key date emerged: October 17, the estimated date the U.S. would default on its financial obligations if the debt limit was not increased.
Congressional Republicans were divided over whether to allow the government to shut down. Most opposed the strategy of attempting to defund Obamacare by attaching it to a budget bill needed to keep the government open beyond Sept. 30.
But the GOP is virtually united on the debt ceiling.
Philosophically, they view it as an opportunity to enact the fiscal reforms and spending cuts they believe are necessary to balance the nation's books and foster economic growth. Many believe this is what they were elected to do. Politically, it speaks to House Republicans' desire to reclaim legislative branch authority from the executive branch -- an issue that drives many Tea Party-affiliated lawmakers.
Angry business groups consider challenging Tea Party incumbents
By Rebecca Berg, Oct. 25
The economic aftermath of the shutdown and near-breach of the debt ceiling created new divisions between Republicans and the business community with whom the GOP has long been aligned.
“We think many of the issues that many of these folks have raised are really important issues,"" U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue said of the Republican conservatives whose fight over Obamacare shuttered the government for 16 days. ""But we do believe to advance those interests by putting the country’s whole financial system at risk is not a good idea.”
The fight — and conservatives' rejection of business community warnings about the economic chaos it could create — now has the Chamber and other business groups long aligned with the Republican Party weighing whether to fight back. The groups are considering taking a page from conservatives' own playbook by recruiting and funding business-friendly candidates against Tea Party incumbents in next year's Republican congressional primaries.
New budget talks are unlikely to produce a 'grand bargain'
By Susan Ferrechio, Nov. 1
Even after the shutdown was resolved, the clashing priorities of the Democrats and Republicans made it clear that a "grand bargain" would elude Washington yet again.
Despite Obama's openness to reform, the politics of a federal budget have shifted dramatically since the days of his private dinners and talks of a grand bargain. Democrats face critical midterm elections in 2014, and they are suddenly not in the mood to bargain with Republicans over the Social Security or Medicare programs that are so important to so many voters.
Many Democrats, in fact, don't believe they have to concede to the GOP on entitlements at all.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., warned a host at Nevada Public Radio station KNPR to stop talking about Medicare and Social Security reforms. That's not going to happen any time soon, he said.