The House Rules Committee agreed Tuesday to allow a bill to come to a vote Wednesday morning that would eliminate the nation’s debt ceiling until May,seeking to postpone a fight about the nation’s debt level.
Republican leaders said they will present legislation including a measure that would withhold pay for members of Congress if they do not pass a budget by April each year.
In a press conference Tuesday evening,House Speaker John Boehner,R-Ohio,said the so-called “No Budget,No Pay” bill would be the main tool in the Republicans’ strategy to deflate the nation’s mounting debt for the next three to four months. He also reaffirmed his party’s commitment to not raising any taxes.
The debt ceiling measure would suspend the debt ceiling limit until May 19. In the meantime,the government could keep borrowing money to pay off existing bills,although a new ceiling has not been set.
Although the debt ceiling solution and no-pay provisions are expected to pass,House Republicans plan to use the three weeks between Monday’s inauguration and President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address to appeal to the public. Boehner,House Majority Leader Eric Cantor,R-Va.,and other Republican leaders stood in front of a backdrop sporting a “No Budget,No Pay” Twitter hashtag at the press conference.
Earlier in the day,House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan,R-Wis.,lead the charge in the Rules Committee,where he blasted the Senate Democrats for not passing a budget the last four years.
Both House and Senate members would be subject to having their pay withheld if they do not pass a budget by April 15 each year,as is required by law. Their pay would be deposited into an escrow account and returned when a budget is passed or when the 113th Congress ends.
“It’s really the mechanics and math of our fiscal problem,or the lack of will to deal with them,” Ryan said in the meeting.
The move to raise the debt ceiling has the reluctant support of Democrats,including Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,D-Nev. The White House issued a statement saying the president would go along with the legislation,despite “unnecessary complications,needlessly perpetuating uncertainty in the Nation’s fiscal system.”
But some Democrats still are vehemently opposed,accusing Republicans of taking them hostage by rolling No Budget,No Pay into a bill they have no choice but to pass.
“I think we’re down the Alice In Wonderland thing again,” Rep. Louise Slaughter,D-N.Y.,told Ryan during the Rules Committee meeting. “We’re pretending like the process is working.”
Many economists agree the level of long-term debt is a hazard to the U.S. economy but say continued debate about the debt ceiling has negative effects on investor confidence and the overall health of the economy.
“Take the debt ceiling once and for all completely off the table,” Simon Johnson,former International Monetary Fund chief economist,said in a testimony to the House Ways and Means committee Tuesday.
Reach Reporter Ian Kullgren at [email protected] or 202-326-2143. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.