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Debt Limit Move Provides Budget Deal Opportunity

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Others, however, held out little hope the two chambers will strike a budget deal.

“It’s going to be enormously difficult to resolve differences if the House and Senate each pass a budget,” said former House Budget Chairman Bill Frenzel, R-Minn., now a Brookings Institution scholar. “They are going to be nowhere near alike.”

A major deficit-cutting deal through the reconciliation process is “not gonna happen,” said Stan Collender, a former Democratic aide to the House and Senate Budget committees. “It’s nice to think that, but before you can do that, you have to come to an agreement between the House and Senate.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash., have not announced a budget strategy. But Charles E. Schumer of New York, the third-ranking Senate Democrat, said Sunday he is sure the Senate will try to adopt a budget resolution incorporating plans for a tax overhaul that would reduce the deficit.

House Passage Expected

The House Rules Committee plans to mark up a rule for the debt limit suspension Tuesday, and the measure is expected to be on the floor Wednesday.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said prospects are good for House passage. “I think just about all Republicans will vote for it,” he said.

Other conservatives reacted a little more cautiously, saying they will insist on spending cuts, either to raise the debt ceiling or through the budget process. “The best way is to go through the budget process and have a 10-year plan that’s smart, that’s reasonable, that tightens the belts throughout the whole government,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee.

Although Democrats in both chambers are expected to accept the GOP offer of a debt limit suspension, they were wary Monday of sounding too optimistic. “What it says is that the Republicans have decided not to tie the debt ceiling to one-for-one [spending] cuts,” said Rep. Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee. “That’s a hopeful sign but the work lies ahead.”

Since the 27th Amendment forbids Congress from altering its own pay until an intervening election has passed, lawmakers will have to be paid their $174,000 salaries eventually, budget resolution or no budget resolution. The GOP provides for them to be paid at the end of the 113th Congress on Jan. 3, 2015, should their regular pay be delayed.

Matt Fuller and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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