By Russell Berman – 01/18/13 12:47 PM ET
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — House Republican leaders on Friday announced a plan to condition a three-month increase in the debt limit on the Senate committing to pass a budget by the April 15 statutory deadline.
“Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Republican conference in remarks to close the party’s three-day retreat in Williamsburg. “The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years. That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year.”
The House will also seek to prevent members of Congress from being paid if the two chambers do not pass a budget resolution.
“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem,” Boehner said. “The principle is simple: no budget, no pay.”
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the House would vote next week on a three-month extension of borrowing authority.
“If the Senate or House fails to pass a budget in that time, members of Congress will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job. No budget, no pay,” Cantor said.
The White House, which has demanded a “clean” debt-ceiling increase free of spending cuts, welcomed the proposal as a step in the right direction.
“We are encouraged that there are signs that Congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on,” press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.
“Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay. And as he has said, the President remains committed to further reducing the deficit in a balanced way.”
House GOP leaders spent much of their three-day retreat sounding out rank-and-file members on the idea of approving a temporary debt-ceiling hike to buy time for fiscal negotiations over automatic spending cuts in sequestration and an extension of government funding, which runs out in late March.
“The Senate has never even passed a budget. It is the rule and the law that by April 15 you have to, so what we’re saying is, we will extend the debt limit until the timeline when you have a budget, a roadmap,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the No. 3 House Republican, told reporters during a series of brief television interviews. “We think it’s only right that both [chambers] lay out their roadmap to put on a path to a balanced budget.”
The idea to use the annual budget process as a string to attach to a debt-limit hike speaks to a central frustration of the House Republican majority — that the Democratic-led Senate has not approved a budget resolution in nearly four years.
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