House Republicans will vote next week to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling for three months and stop pay for members of Congress in until the Senate passes a budget — something it has not done in nearly four years.
Speaker John Boehner said that the "principle is simple: no budget, no pay," during his closing remarks at the House Republican members retreat Friday in Williamsburg, Va.
Details of how the no-pay proposal would work in practice are unclear, in light of existing budget law and constitutional restrictions on changing congressional salaries in the middle of a term.
“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem," Boehner continued.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said that next week Congress will authorize the temporary debt limit to give the Senate and the House time to pass a budget.
"The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending," the Virginia Republican said. "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."
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California added: "Tackling our nation's debt requires an actual deficit reduction plan from Republicans and Democrats so the American people can evaluate the tough, but necessary choices before them."
The move pares back the GOP’s strategy in the upcoming debt-ceiling talks with President Barack Obama by bypassing the opportunity to extract pledges for deep spending cuts out of Obama for the time-being.
A representative for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called the GOP move “reassuring.”
“It is reassuring to see Republicans beginning to back off their threat to hold our economy hostage,” Reid’s spokesman, Adam Jentleson, told Politico. 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.
“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,” Jentleson said. “We have an obligation to pay the bills we have already incurred — bills for which many House Republicans voted.”
Obama himself dismissed the idea of a short-term debt ceiling increase at a press conference on Monday.
"We shouldn’t be doing this on a one-to-three-month time frame," Obama said.
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