News in Brief: US Hits Debt Ceiling, and More

US Hits Debt Ceiling

The Hill reports that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is taking steps to prevent the US from defaulting after the government officially hit the federal debt limit Monday. While the event was not unexpected, the Treasury must begin to use “extraordinary measures,” including a “debt issuance suspension period,” to make sure the government continues to make payments on its obligations and avoids a default. Geithner also said the Treasury would use resources from federal employee pension funds to help pay off debts. If lawmakers do not reach a budget deal by August 2, Geithner said, they would be risking causing “catastrophic economic consequences for citizens.”

Haiti Elects Former Musician Michel Martelly as President

According to The Wall Street Journal, former carnival musician Michel Martelly was named president of Haiti in a landslide election. Martelly won 67.5 percent of the vote against Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady and law professor, who may still choose to legally challenge the results. Martelly, who has never held a government position before, said he would hire an experienced staff to help him run the country.

Shirley Sherrod Will Return to the USDA

Shirley Sherrod, the former US Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee who was forced to resign as Georgia state director of agriculture after being wrongly accused of making racially insensitive remarks, will return to the department in a new role, Politico writes. Sherrod will serve as a contract employee leading a field program in Southwest Georgia to improve relations between the USDA and minority farmers. The program was developed after a two-year investigative study, released Wednesday, revealed decades of discrimination claims by African-Americans, Latinos, women and Native Americans who work in agriculture.