A vote on the proposal is expected Wednesday. If successful, the measure would postpone what was expected to be a major clash with the White House over government spending.
The new strategy, crafted at a three-day retreat here that
ended Friday, is one sign that Republicans, battered at the polls last November and saddled with low public approval, are looking for new ways to litigate their differences with President Obama and congressional Democrats over spending and deficits.
Under the bill, Republicans will seek to raise the debt limit to allow government borrowing through mid-April — long enough, they say, to give both chambers time to pass a budget for the next fiscal year. If either chamber failed to adopt a budget by April 15, that chamber’s members would then have their congressional pay withheld.
As laid out to fellow Republicans by House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) in a speech at the retreat, the goal would be to force Senate Democrats to pass a budget, something they have failed to do for more than three years. With a budget in place, he told them, Republicans would require that a longer-term increase in the debt ceiling be tied to significant spending cuts.
“We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government’s spending problem,” he said, according to excerpts from the speech that were released Friday.
As for docking the Senate’s pay if it does not adopt a budget, he said, “the principle is simple: No budget, no pay.”
The GOP’s new path is an attempt to acknowledge the reality that the party controls only the House while preserving a tactical advantage that could force long-term reductions in spending, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin told reporters Thursday.
An administration official said the White House viewed the move as a major concession by House Republicans.
Though Obama has in the past insisted on increases of sufficient length to calm financial markets and remove any doubt about the ability of the U.S. government to pay its bills, the official said the president would accept a “clean” short-term extension that did not include cuts.
“We are encouraged that there are signs that Congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay.”
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said the Senate would “be happy to consider” an increase in the debt ceiling that arrives without conditions. He did not address, however, how the Senate would treat the House’s proposal to tie member pay to the passage of a budget.