WYSO

David Welna

A fourth consecutive day of talks at the White House for a deal to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2 ended abruptly Wednesday night, with President Obama walking out on a meeting with congressional leaders. That was hours after the credit-ratings agency Moody's threatened to cut the U.S. credit rating, warning of an increased risk of a government debt default.

Meanwhile, GOP congressional leaders in particular are increasingly at odds with members of their own party in the debt-ceiling debate.

Most Senate Republicans voted two weeks ago to end a tax break for ethanol. Some see that vote as a chink in the armor of anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist and the no-new-taxes pledge he's gotten almost every GOP lawmaker to take.

Senate Democrats are still crowing about the day when more than two-thirds of their GOP colleagues seemed to set aside their anti-tax increase orthodoxy.

It's 96 days now since President Obama ordered U.S. forces to begin airstrikes against the forces in Libya of Col. Moammar Gadhafi. That's six days longer than the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which says a president can carry out a military campaign without congressional authorization. Two measures were brought before the House of Representatives that might have provided such authorization, albeit with strings attached. Both failed. NPR's David Welna reports.

Growing numbers of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are balking both at the length of the war in Afghanistan and its cost.

Late last month, a few weeks after U.S. forces killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the Republican-run House voted on a bipartisan amendment aimed at hastening an end to the war in Afghanistan. To the surprise of many, it fell just six votes shy of passing.

Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) was one of 26 members of his party who joined nearly every Democrat in voting for the measure.

The debate over what to do about Libya is coming to a head on Capitol Hill.

The U.S. military intervention in Libya reaches its 90th day on Sunday. That number is significant, because according to the 1973 War Powers Resolution, Congress must authorize American engagements in hostilities that surpass 90 days.

Costly subsidies for homegrown fuel won a vote of confidence Tuesday on Capitol Hill. In a key test vote, the Senate blocked a measure that would have immediately ended both federal subsidies and protective tariffs for corn-based ethanol fuel.

The outcome showed the continued clout of farm states. But it also showed that most Senate Republicans are willing to get rid of at least one tax break.

A 'Very Controversial Subject'

President Obama's push to get the economy back on track has hit significant roadblocks in the institution where he once served: the U.S. Senate. True, it's still controlled by Democrats. But Republicans, by simply threatening a filibuster, can block presidential nominees for key economic posts — and that's exactly what they've done.

Three months ago, for example, the president announced he was nominating Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to be the next U.S. ambassador to China. Days later, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell convened a news conference at the Capitol.

Pages