On Friday House Republicans said they would allow a vote next week on a short-term increase in the debt ceiling, a move that could avert a risky stand-off with President Obama — at least for now. House GOP leaders said they would move on a measure allowing the government to borrow for about three more months. Without an extension, the country is expected to exhaust that authority by mid-February, risking the possibility of a market-rattling default.
Even though Obama in his arrogant way warned Republicans not to challenge him over the debt ceiling, he has no choice, as this is the leverage Republicans have to force him to agree to spending cuts.
They made clear Friday that they’d continue to press for deficit reduction, but said the next long-term debt-ceiling vote would be conditioned on Congress debating a bona fide budget.
“Unless the Senate acts, there will be no consideration of a long-term debt-ceiling increase,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said.
The Senate though, hasn’t passed a budget since 2009, which has drawn lots of criticism from Republicans but protected Democrats controlling the chamber from politically difficult votes.
“Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending,” House Speaker John Boehner said. “The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years. That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year.”
To further pressure Congress, the Republican plan would condition pay for lawmakers on passing a congressional budget measure.
“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem,” Boehner told Republican lawmakers at the retreat. “The principle is simple: `no budget, no pay.”‘
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid welcomed the House Republican move, without specifying whether the Senate would support it.
But other key points remain, such as sharp across-the-board spending cuts that would start to strike the Pentagon and domestic programs alike on March 1 and the possibility of a partial government shutdown with the expiration of a temporary budget measure on March 27.
Boehner has previously invoked a promise that any increase in the government’s borrowing cap would be matched, dollar for dollar, by spending cuts or “reforms” that could include curbs on the long-term growth in retirement programs such as health care for the elderly. This time though, it wasn’t mentioned.
Obama’s budget is due early next month but is expected to be released several weeks later.