House Republicans: We'll Pass Three-Month Debt Limit Increase

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 18 2013 12:44 PM

House Republicans: We'll Pass Three-Month Debt Limit Increase

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. --  After a half-week of rumors and drama, Republican leaders have finally come up with a short-term plan to hike the debt limit. The announcement came from Eric Cantor as the GOP retreat concluded -- I'll quote at length to explain the context and demands.

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. 

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. 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.
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Since yesterday, Republicans had been describing a possible short-term debt limit increase which could include a number of sweeteners for their party. They couldn't say what those sweeteners were. Budget cuts equal to the new debt? A Balanced Budget Amendment? I've asked for more details, because -- and no offense meant here -- Eric Cantor saying "We will pass something" does not mean "we have the votes to pass something."* (Remember Plan B for the fiscal cliff?) But it's hard to read this as anything but the GOP blinking and thinking it can fight harder if it gets the Senate Democrats to pass their own budget.

*Correction, Jan. 17, 2013: Originally I wrote that Eric Cantor saying "We will pass something" does mean "we have the votes." I meant "does not mean."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. You can reach him at daveweigel@gmail.com, or tweet at him @daveweigel.