VanDenberg Scores Big Win At Southern Iowa Speedway

OSKALOOSA — Kool Seamless Gutters Hosted Salute To The Troops night at the races on Wednesday night with near perfect weather conditions as the sixth night of racing was held at the “Mahaska County Monster” ½ mile dirt track.

The Oskaloosa Quality Rentals Sportmod feature saw a new winner make his way to victory lane on Wednesday night. Carter VanDenberg scored a very popular win on as he led the feature flag to flag and held off two of the very best in Sportmod racing in scoring the win. VanDenberg held off the constant challenges of Maguire DeJong in taking the win and Curtis VanDerwal ran a strong race in taking third.

Todd Reitzler took the checkers first in the MidStates Machine Stock Car feature. Reitzler shot into the lead from his front row start and appeared to have smooth sailing to the win. Sixth starting Nathan Wood raced to the front quickly taking second on lap number two and the race was on for the lead between Reitzler and Wood. The 52 of Wood was able to close to the rear bumper of Reitzler on several occasions but was not able to make the pass and settled for second with Travis Bunnell taking third.

Dustin Griffiths continued his mastery of the SIS ½ mile on Wednesday night as scored another feature win in the Parker Tree Service Hobby Stocks. Griffiths advanced from a fourth row start and took the lead from Tyson Overton on lap 8 of the 14 lap main event. Griffths rode the higher line of the multi-grooved racing surface and sailed on to the win over Overton and Austin Barnes.

The Dirt N Asphalt Sport Compacts saw a strong field of 4 cylinder race cars take the green flag for their ten lap main event. When the checkers flew it was James Haring scoring his second win in as many weeks at his hometown race track. Haring advanced from a sixth position start to take the lead at the halfway point from Matt Moore. Haring went on to take the win ahead of Kyle Rysdam and Garrett Porter.

Doug Sylvester scored the feature win in the Clow Valve Company Non-Wing Sprint Car class. Sylvester took the popular win ahead of Ben Woods who has been a frequent visitor to the SIS victory lane in 2023. Nathan James ran third on Wednesday night.

Wednesday night, May 31st will be 3M Kids night with the youngsters being treated to a nickel and candy scramble during intermission. Hot laps will get underway at 7:15 pm.

Southern Iowa Speedway Wednesday, May 24 Feature Results (top Five)

Oskaloosa Quality Rental Sportmods

  1. 7V Carter VanDenberg-New Sharon
  2. 30M Maguire DeJong-Montezuma
  3. 1V Curtis VanDerWal-Oskaloosa
  4. 15K Kyle Harwood- New Sharon
  5. 29 Colton Livezey-New Sharon

Mid States Machine Stock Cars

  1. 22R Todd Reitzler-Grinnell
  2. 52 Nathan Wood-Sigourney
  3. 3 Travis Bunnell-Hedrick
  4. B17 Steve Byers-Indianola
  5. B12 Curtis Barnes-Queen City, MO

Parker Tree Service Hobby Stocks

  1. 10G Dustin Griffiths-Hedrick
  2. 42T Tyson Overton-Carlisle
  3. 01 Austin Barnes-Des Moines
  4. 7 Keaton Gordon-Ottumwa
  5. 33T Trevor Tanner-Knoxville

Dirt N Asphalt Sport Compacts

  1. 2H James Haring-Oskkaloosa
  2. 18A Kyle Rysdam-Palaski
  3. 746 Garrett Porter-Libertyville
  4. 2M Matt Moore-Ottumwa
  5. 0 Bob Hayes-New Sharon

Clow Valve Company Non-Wing Sprints

  1. 12 Doug Sylvester-Ottumwa
  2. 11 Ben Woods-Newton
  3. 7J Nathan James-Russell
  4. 2 Terry Doud -Batavia
  5. T4 Tyler Graves-Chariton  

Expect big crowds for the summer travel season — and big prices, too

DALLAS (AP) — The unofficial start of the summer travel season is here, with airlines hoping to avoid the chaos of last year and travelers scrounging for ways to save a few bucks on pricey airfares and hotel rooms.

Some travelers say they will settle for fewer trips than they hoped to take, or they will drive instead of fly. Others are finding different money-saving sacrifices.

Stephanie Hanrahan thought she’d save money by planning ahead for her daughter’s birthday trip to Disney World in Florida. Instead, it ended up costing the same as the Dallas-area family’s trip for four to California last summer, so now her husband and son are staying home.

“We just had to grit our teeth,” said Hanrahan, a writer and speaker who also runs a nonprofit, as she and daughter Campbell waited for their flight last week at Dallas Love Field.

The number of people going through U.S. airports hit pandemic-era highs last weekend, and those records are almost certain to be broken over the Memorial Day holiday.

AAA predicts that 37 million Americans will drive at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) from home this weekend, an increase of more than 2 million from Memorial Day last year but still below pre-pandemic numbers in 2019. The Transportation Security Administration expects to screen 10 million travelers between Friday and Monday, a 14% increase over the holiday in 2022 and slightly more than in 2019.

With more travel comes more expense. The average rate for a U.S. hotel room last week was $157 a night, up from $150 in the same week last year, according to hotel data provider STR. And the average daily rate for other short-term rentals such as Airbnb and Vrbo rose to $316 last month, up 1.4% from a year ago, according to AirDNA, which tracks the industry.

There is a bit of good news for drivers, however: The national average for a gallon of regular was $3.56 at midweek, down from $4.60 at this time last year, according to AAA. Renting a car is also cheaper than a year ago, when some popular destinations ran out of vehicles. Travel company Expedia said larger inventories let the companies rent more cars at lower prices.

For air travelers, airline industry officials say carriers have fixed problems that contributed to a surge in flight cancellations and delays last summer, when 52,000 flights were nixed from June through August. Airlines have hired about 30,000 workers since then, including thousands of pilots, and they are using bigger planes to reduce flights but not the number of seats.

“I don’t have the hubris to tell you exactly how the summer is going to go, but we have prepared and we have a robust plan for it,” said Andrew Watterson, chief operating officer at Southwest Airline, which struggled at times over the summer of 2022 and suffered an epic meltdown around Christmas, canceling nearly 17,000 flights.

David Seymour, the chief operating officer of American Airlines, said his staff has fine-tuned a system it uses to predict the impact of storms on major airports and devise a plan for recovering from disruptions. He said it is reducing cancellations.

“It’s going to be a solid summer for us,” Seymour said.

In a report released last month, the Government Accountability Office blamed airlines for an increase in flight cancellations as travel recovered from the pandemic. It also said airlines are taking longer to recover from disruptions such as storms.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the government will hold airlines responsible to treat passengers fairly when the carriers cause cancellations or long delays. But just like the airlines, the Federal Aviation Administration — the agency that manages the nation’s air traffic — has had its own staffing shortages and occasional technology breakdowns that have snarled air travel.

The FAA resorted to nudging airlines to reduce flights in the New York City area this summer, and it opened new flight paths over the East Coast to reduce bottlenecks.

“It’s going to be an ordeal — it’s always an ordeal to travel in the summer,” said travel analyst Henry Harteveldt, “but the airlines have done a lot to improve their ability to operate well this summer.”

Airlines hope that limiting the number of flights will improve reliability and reduce delays. So far, it seems to be working. About one in every 70 U.S. flights have been canceled this year — half the rate of a year ago and lower than in 2019.

Limiting the number of flights also keeps prices above pre-pandemic levels.

A provider of travel data, Hopper, predicts that average domestic airfares will peak next month at $328 for a round-trip ticket, which is down from last summer’s record of $400 but 4% higher than in 2019.

There are some last-minute deals on domestic flights, Hopper found, but international fares are their highest in more than five years, with prices to Europe up 50% from a year ago.

The same thing is happening within Europe, as airlines hold the line on capacity at a time of strong travel demand.

“There is no expectation of seeing cheaper fares in Europe in the next seven or eight months,” says John Grant, an analyst for OAG, a U.K.-based travel-data provider.

For the travel industry, the big question is how long consumers can keep paying for airline tickets and accommodations while they try to deal with stubborn high inflation, news about layoffs and bank failures, and fear of a recession.

Industry executives say consumers are favoring the experience of travel over other types of spending, but some analysts see cracks in the strong demand for travel that began in early 2022.

Bank of America analysts say data from their credit and debit card customers showed a slowdown in spending in April, as card use fell below year-before levels for the first time since February 2021. They say spending on hotels, which rebounded relatively early from the pandemic, dipped this spring, while the late-recovering cruise industry is still steaming ahead — card spending on cruises rose 37% last month, although from very low levels a year ago.

“Travel remains a bright spot relative to other sectors, but we’re also seeing signs of moderation in the travel space,” said Anna Zhou, an economist for the bank.

Share the fun of fishing during free fishing weekend June 2-4

DES MOINES — Iowa residents can try fishing without buying a license on June 2, 3 and 4, as part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) free fishing weekend. All other regulations remain in place.

Free fishing weekend is a great time to share the fun of fishing with a kid, your family or a friend. Outdoor fun awaits at hundreds of Iowa lakes, thousands of miles of rivers or a neighborhood pond.

“A summer of family fun is just a short drive and a fishing pole away,” said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa DNR’s Fisheries Bureau. “The water is waiting. Get your lines in the water and put your worries behind you.”

Find a list of stocked lakes and ponds that are easily accessible in parks and along trails on the Iowa DNR’s interactive Iowa Community Fisheries Atlas at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Fish-Local.

Fun, hands-on fishing events will be offered across Iowa to help families new to fishing get started. Check the general fishing calendar on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/fishing for a list of free fishing events.

Keep the fun going all summer long by buying a fishing license. It’s easy to buy a fishing license with the DNR Go Outdoors Iowa online licensing system at https://license.gooutdoorsiowa.com/Licensing/CustomerLookup.aspx. You can download the public Go Outdoors IA mobile app for iPhone and Android devices to buy and store your fishing license, so you will always have access to your license no matter where you are. Yearly, seven-day, or 24-hour fishing licenses are available.

Enticing a fish to bite your hook is fun for all ages. Get tips for taking kids fishing and catching crappie and bluegills on the DNR website at www.iowadnr.gov/Fishing/Ready-to-Fish.

Nathan Sage Named New Executive Director of Knoxville Chamber

KNOXVILLE — The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors has named Nathan Sage as its executive director. He will begin his role on May 30.

“Nathan possesses many of the qualities that are required for our Executive Director to be successful — leadership, relationship building, storytelling, and most importantly, a passion for Knoxville,” said Tracy Russell, president, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

The Knoxville Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a vibrant business community through effective communication and stakeholder engagement. They promote business, encourage others to shop local and shop local themselves.

IGHSAU Softball Rankings – Week 1

Below are the first Iowa High School softball rankings for the 2023 season released by the IGHSAU. Area schools are denoted in bold.

Class 1A
1 Southeast Warren
2 Martensdale St. Marys
3 Remsen St. Mary’s
4 Newell-Fonda
5 North Linn
6 Sigourney
7 Collins-Maxwell
8 Fort Dodge St. Edmond
9 Woodbine
10 Highland
11 Mason City Newman
12 West Central Valley
13 Twin Cedars
14 Clarksville
15 St. Ansgar

Class 2A
1 Iowa City Regina
2 Lisbon
3 Central Springs
4 Van Meter
5 Interstate 35
6 Wilton
7 North Union
8 Logan-Magnolia
9 Cascade
10 Northeast
11 West Monona
12 Osage
13 Cardinal
14 Akron-Westfield
15 South Hardin

Class 3A
1 Williamsburg
2 Davenport Assumption
3 Saydel
4 Dubuque Wahlert
5 Mount Vernon
6 Davis County
7 Estherville Lincoln Central
8 Benton
9 Solon
10 Sioux Center
11 Albia
12 Atlantic
13 Sumner-Fredericksburg
14 Algona
15 PCM

Class 4A
1 Dallas Center-Grimes
2 Fort Dodge
3 North Scott
4 Carlisle
5 Norwalk
7 Xavier
8 Indianola
9 North Polk
10 Winterset
11 Burlington
12 Creston
13 Fairfield
14 Sergeant Bluff-Luton
15 Clear Creek-Amana

Class 5A
1 Waukee Northwest
2 West Des Moines Valley
3 Southeast Polk
4 Linn-Mar
5 Pleasant Valley
6 Ankeny Centennial
7 Muscatine
8 Johnston
9 Ankeny
10 Bettendorf
11 Ames
12 Waukee
13 Cedar Rapids Kennedy
14 Dubuque Hempstead
15 Iowa City Liberty

Recent shark attacks are worrying beach-goers, yet experts say they’re very rare

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Recent shark bites in Florida and Hawaii and a suspected case in New Jersey have piqued interest in an age-old summer question for beachgoers — is it safe to go in the water?

Scientists and researchers who study sharks said the overwhelming answer to that question is yes, it is safe. Potentially dangerous interactions between humans and sharks are uncommon, and serious injuries and deaths from the bites are vanishingly rare, scientists said.

Nonetheless, the dramatic nature of shark bites and the stories of survivors, such as Hawaii surfer Mike Morita’s tale of fighting off a shark in April, capture the imagination. It’s a good idea to remember just how rare shark bites truly are, scientists said.


There have been typically around 70 to 80 unprovoked shark bites annually, worldwide, over the past decade. And not only are shark bites rare, they’ve been especially rare recently.

There were only 57 unprovoked bites last year, and five of those were fatal, according to University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File. There had been nine such deaths the previous year.

The shark attack file reported a year ago that one reason for the decline in bites might be be the global decline of shark populations.

It’s too early in the warm season to get an idea of how active this year will be for interactions between humans and sharks, said Greg Skomal, a shark expert with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

“If we get lots of bait fish and forage fish species close to shore, we have a super hot summer that draws people to beaches, more people in the water, then we can determine the risk,” Skomal said.


The United States and Australia are typically the sites of the most reported shark bites. Florida had more bites than anywhere else on Earth last year with 16 unprovoked bites, two of which resulted in amputations, the shark attack file said.

This month, two Florida fishermen were bitten by sharks in separate incidents less than 36 hours apart.

The rate of shark bites has stayed steady in recent years, but it might feel like a more common occurrence because of the prevalence of smartphones, said Nick Whitney, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium in Boston. Recently developed smartphone apps allow users to report shark sightings in real time.


White sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks are the sharks most cited by the International Shark Attack File for unprovoked bites. Those species are large sharks that also cause the most fatalities.

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that many interactions with sharks are with smaller species that are unlikely to cause serious injuries, said James Sulikowski, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at Oregon State University. Those species might bite a human, realize we are not their preferred prey and move on, he said.


Yes. You’re at exponentially greater risk of getting hurt in a car accident on the way to the beach than you are to get seriously injured by a shark bite.

Millions of people flock to the beach in the summer as the weather heats up, and that raises the possibility of interacting with a shark. But by taking simple precautions, such as not carrying shiny objects into the water and not swimming at dawn and dusk, beachgoers can reduce any chance of a dangerous encounter with a shark, Sulikowski said.

“We are intruders in their environment. What we can do is be logical and safe about that and avoid areas where sharks are going to be feeding,” Sulikowski said. “When an interaction occurs, it’s mistaken identity — we are in an area where a shark is looking to eat.”

Attorney General Bird Joins 49 State Coalition to Sue Avid Telecom Over Illegal, Fraudulent Robocalls

DES MOINES — Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird joined 48 other states in a lawsuit against Avid Telecom, its owner, and its chief officers for facilitating billions of illegal robocalls to millions of Americans.

Since 2019, about 9,000 of these fraudulent calls have targeted Iowa alone. Avid Telecom has helped make hundreds of millions of calls using fake or invalid caller ID numbers, including more than 8.4 million calls impersonating the government, law enforcement agencies, and private companies. They also sent or transmitted more than 7.5 billion calls on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Between December 2018 and January 2023, Avid sent or attempted to send a total of over 24.5 billion calls. The scam robocalls involved Social Security Administration scams, Medicare scams, auto warranty scams, Amazon scams, and more. The USTelecom-led Industry Traceback Group sent Avid Telecom at least 329 notifications about it transmitting known and suspected illegal robocalls, but they ignored the notifications and continued facilitating the calls.

“We’re taking action to shield Iowans from fraudulent and illegal robocalls,” said Attorney General Bird. “This company has helped connect scammers directly with thousands of Iowans over the phone, but we’re pushing back. Thanks to this bipartisan coalition of attorneys general, we are putting the full force of 49 states behind our lawsuit to hold illegal robocalling businesses accountable and protect Americans from scams.”

The 49-state coalition is suing Avid Telecom for violation of the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR), the Telephone Consumer Protection Action (TCPA), and other state and federal laws.

Iowa joined 48 other states in the Arizona, Indiana, North Carolina, and Ohio-led lawsuit.

Read the full lawsuit here.

Oskaloosa Historical Trolley Stop Alley Ribbon Cutting and Open House to Take Place on June 10

OSKALOOSA – Organizers of the Trolley Stop Alley project will host a ribbon cutting and open house on Saturday, June 10 from 1 to 3 pm. The public is invited to attend the celebration for the remodeled alley, located downtown on High Avenue West between Tasos Steak House and Hunter’s Gift and Coffee Café.  

The celebration will include the grand opening of the completed alley remodel project. According to Steering Committee Member Ann Brouwer, the Trolley Stop Alley project was designed to create open outdoor spaces for safe gathering in our post-pandemic world. “We are so happy to have such an artistic, unique space,” Brouwer stressed.  

Planning for the Trolley Stop Alley project began in 2021 and is the second alley remodel in downtown Oskaloosa featuring outdoor seating. The space will be open for dining, resting, and social gathering.  Beer and wine may be consumed within the alley. Steering Committee Member Sherry Vavra said the first alley project by Smokey Row was open in 2016 and has proven to be a great gathering space for the community. The Trolley Stop Alley has some of the same volunteers.  

“We anticipate the same success for this alley, but more low-key, plan-your-own gathering or just to have lunch or dinner outdoors in a trendy space,” Vavra explained.

At 2 pm, the Mahaska Chamber Diplomats will begin the celebration with a ribbon cutting. Steering Committee members Ann Brouwer and Sherry Vavra will welcome attendees, followed by Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt, who will share the importance of this project for the community.  At 4 pm, John Bandstra will give a presentation on the history of Oskaloosa trolleys at the Oskaloosa Art Center, located at 115 1st Ave. W.  

Nicole Pitts designed the original Trolley Driver artwork, currently displayed on the stage at Smokey Row. Framing of the print was donated by Mahaska Drug. This beautiful artwork is open for bids and funds raised will go to the Trolley Stop Alley’s continuing work and maintenance.  The bid sheet is near the display at Smokey Row or you can contact Ann Brouwer (641-660-8075) for anonymous bidding or questions. The winning bidder will be announced, and take possession of the artwork, following Bandstra’s presentation at The Art Center. 

The first horse-drawn streetcar in Oskaloosa was serving the town as early as 1888 and was converted to an electric trolley in 1897. Trolley lines crossed in front of the current Hunter’s and Tasos’ restaurants until 1925. Local artist Brant Bollman created an historic trolley mural in the alley in 2020.  A committee formed to launch the Trolley Stop Alley Project to further preserve this time in history. The project was approved and full support was given by the Historical Preservation Commission and the City of Oskaloosa.  

Brouwer said the conversation began with thoughts of purchasing a retired trolley that a chamber member had seen an ad for.  Due to the cost and difficulty of converting an actual trolley, a new concept evolved: “The idea was to build a ‘trolley’ facade shelter with printed trolley décor. A local artist created the trolley driver.  Tables were placed inside and windows were cut to give the appearance of people ‘riding a trolley’ to people passing by.”

Vavra said inside, historical pictures hang to appear as people and sights from the trolley period as you ‘ride’ the trolley at the tables. The shelter also has lighting beneath the roof to allow for longer hours of use, and it is open at each end to create air flow.

 A steel archway at the entrance reads “TROLLEY STOP ALLEY” to create the finished project. The space is designated a city park. Beer or wine may be brought in and consumed within the space.  Additional benches and ½ tables will be placed in the alley in the near future for additional dining and gathering.

If you would like more information or have information to share, contact Brouwer at 641-660-8075 or Vavra at 641-660-7504.

Grewe Powers North Mahaska to win, 14-2

MONTEZUMA – North Mahaska got the 2023 softball campaign off to a fine start Monday dominating South Iowa Cedar League foe Montezuma 14-2. Junior Regan Grewe had a strong night pitching and hitting accounting for five of the team’s runs.

Grewe hit two homeruns totaling more than 400 feet and drove in four runs. From the circle she allowed five hits. Struck out four and walked three in six innings.

She broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third inning with a solo shot, which began a five-run onslaught. NM took advantage of two Montezuma errors and a pair of walks capped by a single by Kylie Van Weelden. They also stole four bases in the inning.

In the fourth a two-out single by Olivia Ridgeway led to another score and NM held a 5-0 lead. Monte would score their first run in the fourth and another in the fifth before the Warhawk defense stopped the momentum.

“My teammates played well behind me, which made it easier,” said Grewe. “I hit the ball well and that was exciting.”

NM scored 14 runs on 12 hits and collected 11 RBI in the contest. They stole five bases and took advantage of five walks and seven errors.

NM coach Ashley Schroeder felt good about the team’s performance in the season opener. 

“I thought Regan pitched pretty well and found a groove,” said Schroeder. “The girls played good defense behind her, and we were able to steal bases.”

Ridgeway hit to singles and drove in two runs, Van Weelden hit two singles with an RBI and Jalayna Shipley hit to singles.

Kallie Robison took the loss for Montezuma allowing 14 runs on 11 hits, five walks and three strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. Leah Urfer tossed the 2/3 innings. Jordan

North Mahaska (1-0, 1-0) will head to Moravia for nonconference action Tuesday then hosts HLV Wednesday.

Debt ceiling explained: Why it’s a struggle in Washington and how the impasse could end

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met Monday after a weekend of on again, off again negotiations over raising the nation’s debt ceiling and mere days before the government could reach a “hard deadline” and run out of cash to pay its bills.

The two sides are working to reach a budget compromise before June 1, when Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said the country could default.

Speaking to reporters after Monday’s meeting, McCarthy said the two sides had not yet reached an agreement but the meeting was “productive.” In his own statement following the Oval Office sit-down, Biden echoed those sentiments.

“We reiterated once again that default is off the table and the only way to move forward is in good faith toward a bipartisan agreement,” Biden said. Their handpicked negotiators will continue to meet.

McCarthy and Republicans are insisting on spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit. Biden has come to the negotiating table after balking for months but says the GOP lawmakers will have to back off their “extreme positions.”

On Sunday evening, negotiators met again and appeared to be narrowing on a 2024 budget year cap that could resolve the standoff. After speaking with Biden by phone as the president traveled home from a trip to Asia, McCarthy sounded somewhat optimistic. But he warned that “there’s no agreement on anything.”

A look at the negotiations and why they are happening:


Once a routine act by Congress, the vote to raise the debt ceiling allows the Treasury Department to continue borrowing money to pay the nation’s already incurred bills.

The vote in more recent times has been used as a political leverage point, a must-pass bill that can be loaded up with other priorities.

House Republicans, newly empowered in the majority this Congress, are refusing to raise the debt limit unless Biden and the Democrats impose federal spending cuts and restrictions on future spending.

The Republicans say the nation’s debt, now at $31 trillion, is unsustainable. They also want to attach other priorities, including stiffer work requirements on recipients of government cash aid, food stamps and the Medicaid health care program. Many Democrats oppose those requirements.

Biden had insisted on approving the debt ceiling with no strings attached, saying the U.S. always pays its bills and defaulting on debt is non-negotiable.

But facing a deadline as soon as June 1, when Treasury says it will run out of money, Biden launched negotiations with Republicans.


There are positive signs, though there have been rocky moments in the talks.

Start-stop negotiations were back on track late Sunday, and all sides appear to be racing toward a deal. Negotiators left the Capitol after 8 p.m. Sunday and said they would keep working.

McCarthy said after his call with Biden that “I think we can solve some of these problems if he understands what we’re looking at.”

The speaker added: “We have to spend less money than we spent last year.”

Biden, for his part, said at a press conference in Japan before departing: “I think that we can reach an agreement.”

But reaching an agreement is only part of the challenge. Any deal will also have to pass the House and Senate with significant bipartisan support. Many expect that buy-in from the White House and GOP leadership will be enough to muscle it over the finish line.


Republicans want to roll back spending to 2022 levels and cap future spending for the next decade.

Democrats aren’t willing to go that far to cut federal spending. The White House has instead proposed holding spending flat at the current 2023 levels.

There are also policy priorities under consideration, including steps that could help speed the construction and development of energy projects that both Republicans and some Democrats want.

Democrats have strenuously objected to a Republican push to impose stiffer work requirements on people who receive government aid through food stamps, Medicaid health care and the cash assistance programs.

Biden, though, has kept the door open to some discussion over work requirements.


A government default would be unprecedented and devastating to the nation’s economy. Yellen and economic experts have said it could be “catastrophic.”

There isn’t really a blueprint for what would happen. But it would have far-reaching effects.

Yellen has said it would destroy jobs and businesses and leave millions of families who rely on federal government payments to “likely go unpaid,” including Social Security beneficiaries, veterans and military families.

More than 8 million people could lose their jobs, government officials estimate. The economy could nosedive into a recession.

“A default could cause widespread suffering as Americans lose the income that they need to get by,” she said. Disruptions to federal government operations would impact “air traffic control and law enforcement, border security and national defense, and food safety.”


Some Democrats have proposed that they could raise the debt ceiling on their own, without help from Republicans.

Progressives have urged Biden to invoke a clause in the Constitution’s 14th Amendment that says the validity of the public debt in the United States “shall not be questioned.” Default, the argument goes, is therefore unconstitutional.

Supporters of unilateral action say Biden already has the authority to effectively nullify the debt limit if Congress won’t raise it, so that the validity of the country’s debt isn’t questioned. The president said Sunday that it’s a “question that I think is unresolved,” as to whether he could act alone, adding he hopes to try to get the judiciary to weigh in on the notion for the future.

In Congress, meanwhile, House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries has launched a process that would “discharge” the issue to the House floor and force a vote on raising the debt limit.

It’s a cumbersome legislative procedure, but Jeffries urged House Democrats to sign on to the measure in hopes of gathering the majority needed to trigger a vote.

The challenge for Democrats is that they have only 213 members on their side — five short of the 218 needed for a majority.

Getting five Republicans to cross over and join the effort won’t be easy. Signing onto a “discharge” petition from the minority is seen as a major affront to party leadership, particularly on an issue as important as the debt ceiling. Few Republicans, if any, may be willing to suffer the consequences.


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