The House plans to vote Wednesday on a Republican proposal to extend the government’s debt ceiling for three months, but conservatives were waging a last-minute effort to defeat the bill because it would not force spending cuts.
The proposal from Republican leaders would keep the $16.4 trillion ceiling intact but declare that it “shall not apply” until mid-May, or about three months after it was passed by the Senate and signed into law.
The measure doesn’t seek spending cuts that many conservatives are demanding, but it does have strings attached: House and Senate members would forgo paychecks if Congress doesn’t approve a budget by April 15. That provision is designed to force the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass a budget, something it hasn’t done in four years. Sponsors said they’ll still work to cut spending in other bills, and they stressed that they could always fall back on automatic spending cuts approved in 2011 but not yet implemented.
At the White House, Press Secretary Jay Carney said President Barack Obama “would not stand in the way” of the short-term bill and would likely sign it if passed by the House and Senate. The administration added that a long-term solution is still preferred.
“A temporary solution is not enough to remove the threat of default that the Republicans in the Congress have held over the economy,” the Office of Management and Budget said Tuesday in an administration statement of policy. “The Congress should commit to paying its bills and pass a long-term clean debt limit increase that lifts an unnecessary uncertainty from the nation’s economy.”
House Republican leaders appeared confident that they would have sizable Republican support for the short-term measure, as they told the rank and file they’d produce a budget that’s balanced within a decade.