- The Washington Times - Friday, January 18, 2013

WILLIAMSBURG, VA. — Capping a three-day GOP retreat, House GOP leaders announced that next week they will pursue a three-month extension of the nation’s borrowing limit to give Congress more time to pass a federal budget — warning that the proposal will also freeze members’ pay if they fail to do their job.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said the “principle is simple: no budget, no pay.”

“Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending,” Mr. Boehner said in his closing remarks at the posh Kingsmill Resort near Colonial Williamsburg. The Democratic-controlled Senate has failed to pass a budget for four years. That is a shameful run that needs to end, this year.”

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, said the move is the first step to getting the nation’s fiscal house in order.

“The first step to fixing this problem is to pass a budget that reduces spending,” Mr. Cantor said. “The House has done so, and will again. The Democratic Senate has not passed a budget in almost four years, which is unfair to hard-working taxpayers who expect more from their representatives.”

The White House gave a cautious welcome to the suggestion the House Republicans were open to a delay in the expected showdown over raising the federal debt limit, but said the offer fell far short of the president’s position on a long-term budget and spending deal.

“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,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney in a statement Friday afternoon.

“Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay,” Mr. Carney said. “And as he has said, the president remains committed to further reducing the deficit in a balanced way.”

Bu Mr. Boehner’s move will ramp up the political pressure on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to pass a budget through the upper chamber for the first time since 2009.

Mr. Reid, Nevada Democrat, has been reluctant to force some of the more vulnerable Democrats to cast votes on spending plans that could come back to haunt them at the polls.

Over that same four-year period, the national debt has mushroomed and the nation has run four straight $1 trillion-plus deficits.

The House GOP spent a good chunk of time during its retreat mapping out a path forward on raising the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt limit, which is expected to breached as early as mid-February.

Lawmakers also are weighing how best to deal with the looming $110 billion in across-the-board spending cuts, known as budget sequesters, set to kick in March 1 and the stopgap spending bill that has kept the government funded since September and is scheduled to run out on March 27.

President Obama and Democrats meanwhile, have balked at the idea of attaching any strings to a debt limit hike, warning that failure to raise the federal borrowing limit would jeopardize the economy and global markets.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, the party’s 2012 vice presidential nominee, told reporters on Thursday that a short-term extension of the debt limit was one of the ideas that Republicans are weighing — though even that move must be in exchange for Democrats ceding ground on spending or other budget reforms.

“We think it is incredible that the Senate for three years has ignored the law and refused to pass the budget,” he said. “We think we need to have a big debate about a vision for the country and at least how we would budget.”

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