January 18, 2013 in Nation/World

GOP official: House to vote to lift debt limit

ANDREW TAYLOR Associated Press
 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republican-controlled House will vote next week to permit the government to borrow more money to meet its obligations, a move aimed at heading off a market-rattling confrontation with President Barack Obama over the so-called debt limit.

Full details aren’t settled yet, but the measure would give the government about three more months of borrowing authority beyond a deadline expected to hit as early as mid-February, a Republican official said today.

The legislation wouldn’t require immediate spending cuts as earlier promised by GOP leaders like Speaker John Boehner of Ohio. Instead, it’s aimed at forcing the Democratic-controlled Senate to join the House in debating the federal budget. It would try to do so by conditioning pay for members of Congress 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 GOP lawmakers at a retreat in Williamburg, Va. “The principle is simple: ‘no budget, no pay.’”

The Senate 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.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid welcomed the House GOP move.

“It is reassuring to see Republicans beginning to back off their threat to hold our economy hostage,” said Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson. “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.”

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hasn’t been publicly announced.

GOP leaders have been grappling with how to gain leverage in their battles with Obama over the budget. Boehner successfully won about $2 trillion in spending cuts as a condition of increasing the government’s borrowing cap in 2011.

Obama, however, was dealt a stronger hand by his re-election in November and successfully pressed through a 10-year, $600 billion increase on upper-bracket tax payers earlier this month.

Other choke points remain, including 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.

Obama’s budget is due early next month but is expected to be released several weeks later.

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