Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to vote Wednesday on a Republican bill that would extend the debt ceiling until May 18 and give the Senate more time to develop a formal budget, in an effort to fix the nation’s fiscal crisis.
The Senate has been unable to pass a budget since April 2009. If the upper house cannot produce a budget, then the measure calls for the withholding of lawmakers’ paychecks beginning April 15. This money would go into escrow until a budget is adopted, hence the “no budget, no pay” slogan adopted by Republicans.
The three-month extension of the $16.4 trillion debt limit is also a withdrawal by Republicans who were previously steadfast on not increasing the government’s borrowing authority, unless they got spending cuts in return. These spending cuts were to match the increase dollar-for-dollar.
House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday called on Senate Democrats to pass a budget. “Hardworking taxpayers understand that they’ve got to balance their budgets, whether it’s every week or every month,” Boehner said. “They also believe that it’s time for Washington to balance its budget."
The speaker argued that for the past four years the House has managed to come up with a budget, with its counterparts in the other chamber failing to do the same.
“Most Americans believe you don’t do your job, you shouldn’t get paid, and that’s the basis for no budget, no pay,” he said. “It’s time for the Senate to act.”
But while Boehner and House Republicans are criticizing Senate Democrats, they, too, are facing criticism -- from their own right flank. Among their harshest critics is the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks, which has promised to rally its members to oppose the proposed GOP legislation.
FreedomWorks will be asking its members to call up their representatives in Congress and demand a "no" vote.
“This proposal is more of the same,” FreedomWorks legislative counsel Dean Clancy said in a press statement.
Clancy said the Republican leadership is doing nothing but negotiating with itself once again to temporarily “bail the big spenders out” by lifting the U.S. debt limit for months, especially without any “immediate accompanying budget reforms or spending reductions.”
“It’s been almost four years since the Senate fulfilled its constitutional responsibility to pass a budget. Our government is almost $16.5 trillion in debt,” he continued. “That exceeds the entire annual output of the U.S. economy and equals more than $52,000 for every citizen.
“If that’s not scary enough, those numbers don’t include the more than $100 trillion in unfunded entitlement promises,” Clancy added. “If this pattern continues, the major credit agencies have threatened once again to downgrade our nation’s credit. This will make paying down the debt even more difficult. And amid all of this, the House leadership wants to raise the debt ceiling clean? Get serious, guys. Do your jobs.”