Spending battles have dominated this Congress more than any other issue in the first few months of Republican control of the House of Representatives. And with Democrats still in control of the Senate and the presidency, those fights are far from over.
A government shutdown in Fiscal Year 2011 was averted, but federal workers face the threat of another shutdown just months from now. Congress will have to find a way to raise the nation's debt ceiling to avoid defaulting on loans and ruining the credit rating of the United States while also adopting some kind of fiscal reforms to satisfy the fiscally conservative and Tea Party members in Congress and show the world that United States' leaders are serious about getting the nation's fiscal house in order.
Just this morning, the credit rating agency Standard and Poor's changed its long-term assessment of United States debt from stable to negative. That's based on the agency's belief that Congress and President Obama will be unable to reach agreement on a plan to reduce the nation's $14 trillion deficit before the 2012 elections.
That assessment raises the stakes for the budget brawls ahead as Congress bears the burden of trying to prove that agency wrong.