House Approves Debt-Ceiling Suspension and Budget Requirement

by Andrew Stiles

The House of Representatives on Wednesday approved the GOP’s “No Budget, No Pay” measure by a convincing 285–144 margin.

The bill, which would temporarily suspend the debt limit through mid-May, as well as withhold pay from lawmakers if they fail to pass a budget during that time, now goes to the Senate, where it is certain to pass.

The result marks an important victory for House speaker John Boehner, who had worked hard to rally conservative support for the plan. That said, 33 Republicans voted no, meaning the bill would not have passed without the help of House Democrats, 86 of whom voted yes.

Representative Tom Price (R., Ga.), a member of the conservative working group responsible for the “No Budget, No Pay” proposal, said he was “very pleased” by the outcome.

“This allows the American people to recognize there are individuals here who are actually trying to solve problems,” he told National Review Online. “What we will see, hopefully, is the Senate pass a budget, and then we’ll be able to contrast our vision of America with their vision of America. And my sense is that the American people will come down on our side.”

Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray (D., Wash.) announced Wednesday that, after failing to pass a budget for more than three years, she and her colleagues were “ready to get to work.”

“It’s interesting to note, after almost four years having passed, with an economy that has been struggling, the Senate never acted,” House majority leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said in a statement. “It took one week in which their paychecks were on the line and now the Senate is going to step up and do the right thing.”

House Republicans leaders are eager to shift the focus from themselves onto Senate Democrats, and believe they have more leverage to press for spending cuts now that the specter of default has, at least temporarily, been taken off the table.

House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, who played a key role in championing the GOP strategy, will now begin work on a budget that will achieve balance within 10 years. House leadership’s commitment to a balanced budget was critical in terms of winning over reluctant conservatives such as Representative Tom Graves (R., Ga.), a conservative member who told NRO on Tuesday he was undecided on the bill but ultimately voted yes.

Boehner reiterated this commitment Wednesday on the House floor. “Balancing the budget over the next ten years means that we save the future for our kids and our grandkids,” he said. “It also means that we strengthen programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid that can’t continue to exist in their current form without some kind of controls. It’s time for Congress to get serious about this, and this is the first step in an effort to bring real fiscal responsibility to Washington.”

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