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House GOP to Offer Debt Limit Hike in Exchange for Senate Budget

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
McCarthy said the House may still ask for spending cuts along with a plan to allow a temporary debt limit increase.

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — After a private three-day strategy session here, House Republicans are poised to announce a plan to allow a temporary debt limit increase on the condition that the Senate adopts a budget.

The strategy represents largely scaled-back expectations for the GOP, which hunkered down at a secluded golf retreat here in an attempt to arrive at a path forward after a bruising election season that culminated in dramatic infighting.

“A budget is a road map of not only where you are, but where you can go,” said Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California. “What we are talking about now inside this retreat is moving the debt limit past the April 15 deadline of both houses passing a budget and then have the discussion after you have the road map.”

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio told his conference Friday in closing remarks released by his office that a long-term debt limit increase needed to be preceded by a budget that cuts spending.

“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem. The principle is simple: no budget, no pay,” Boehner said, referencing a plan that would tie members’ regular salaries to approval of a budget.

“A long-term increase in the debt limit that is not preceded by meaningful and responsible reductions in government spending might avert a default, but it would also invite a downgrade of our nation’s credit that damages our economy, hurts families and small businesses, and destroys jobs,” the Ohio Republican continued.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia said in a statement the House will pass a three-month temporary debt limit increase next week “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.”

McCarthy said the House may still ask for spending cuts along with the debt limit increase. But the idea of asking for nothing more than a Senate budget is a recognition that the “Boehner rule” of demanding dollar-for-dollar spending cuts for a debt ceiling increase might be unachievable with a Democratic White House and Senate.

While rank-and-file House Republicans and leadership alike seem to have coalesced around the idea, it remains unclear just how much support such a plan would get on the House floor.

Boehner has little room for error with a smaller majority in the 113th Congress. If enough Republicans reject the idea, he may need Democratic votes to push the plan through the House.

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