House Republicans Back off from Fiscal Clash with President Obama

Republicans in the House of Representatives backed away from a fiscal clash with President Obama next month that could shift to a new, less aggressive stance.

House Republicans are to vote next week on a three-month extension of the debt limit, said Friday Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Photo: republicanconference/Flickr

Top Republican leaders revealed they would allow the government to borrow the required sum of money to keep it fully operating for the next three months without demanding immediate spending cuts from the U.S. president.

Instead, the Republicans, who are in majority in the House, will require as part of the legislation raising the debt limit that the Democratic-led Senate pass a budget plan by April 15, Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Friday.

Cantor released a statement after the annual House Republican retreat, where much of the issues were devoted to approaching fiscal deadlines.

“The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending. 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,” said in the statement the Majority Leader.

“We must pay our bills and responsibly budget for our future. Next week, we will authorize a three month temporary debt limit increase to give the Senate and House time to pass a budget.”

He went on, adding: “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.”

The announcement was issued soon after House Budget Chair Paul Ryan revealed to reporters that Republicans were “discussing the possible virtue of a short-term debt limit extension.”

It was also leaked that the party believes that it can extract spending cuts from President Obama during the course of other looming budget battles scheduled on March 1 and the expiration of the continuing resolution on March 27.

House Speaker John Boehner released his own statement, noting that Republicans “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,” The Huffington Post quotes him as saying.

In the wake of Republicans’ comments, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Senate would consider a clean debt limit increase if it were to pass the House.

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

“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. We have an obligation to pay the bills we have already incurred – bills for which many House Republicans voted,” he added.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized the Republicans’ proposal, calling for a “clean” debt ceiling hike.

“This proposal does not relieve the uncertainty faced by small businesses, the markets and the middle class. This is a gimmick unworthy of the challenges we face and the national debate we should be having. The message from the American people is clear: no games, no default,” said her spokesman, Drew Hamill.

The White House also commented on the issue by saying it was “encouraged” that Republicans are moving away from earlier debt ceiling threats.

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