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  • unclefulbert unclefulbert Jan 18, 2013 2:56 PM Flag

    Obstructionists capitulate again

    House Republicans have come out of their annual retreat in Williamsburg, Va., with a new strategy on debt-ceiling negotiations: They will raise the nation's borrowing limit for three months next week to give Senate Democrats the opportunity to pass a budget.

    A longer-term extension in the debt ceiling would then be contingent on the Senate passing a budget — something it hasn't done in almost four years.

    Here's Majority Leader Eric Cantor's full statement:

    "The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending. The House has done so, and will again. The Democratic Senate has not passed a budget in almost four years, which is unfair to hardworking taxpayers who expect more from their representatives. That ends this year.

    "We must pay our bills and responsibly budget for our future. Next week, we will authorize a three month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget. Furthermore, 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.

    "This is the first step to get on the right track, reduce our deficit and get focused on creating better living conditions for our families and children. It's time to come together and get to work."

    Though the plan appears to have rank-and-file support from Cantor, House Speaker John Boehner and others, it remains to be seen how House Republicans will react to it.

    Boehner added his support in a statement:

    “Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending. The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years. That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year.

    Both Boehner and Cantor threatened that if the Senate did not pass a budget, members of Congress would not be paid, adopting a "No Budget, No Pay" slogan.

    Senate Democrats haven't passed a budget resolution in almost four years, a common Republican gripe. Instead, Congress has passed a series of short-term spending plans.

    The Senate is not in session this week, and it's not yet clear how its members will proceed. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in a statement that it was "reassuring to see Republicans beginning to back off their threat to hold our economy hostage."

    "If the House can pass a clean debt ceiling increase to avoid default and allow the United States to meet its existing obligations, we will be happy to consider it," Reid said.

    "As President Obama has said, this issue is too important to middle class families' economic security to use as a ploy for collecting a ransom. We have an obligation to pay the bills we have already incurred - bills for which many House Republicans voted."

    Talking Points Memo's Brian Beutler explained last year how Republican complaints are more political gamesmanship than gripes about anything that could affect actual policy. He wrote that budget resolutions are not enforced by law, and that Congress has worked together instead to pass short-term spending plans like the deals that resulted from the last debt-ceiling fight and from the fiscal cliff.


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