House Republicans seek vote to extend debt limit to May 19

WASHINGTON Mon Jan 21, 2013 3:23pm EST

Speaker of the House John Boehner bangs the gavel during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington January 3, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Speaker of the House John Boehner bangs the gavel during the first day of the 113th Congress at the Capitol in Washington January 3, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have scheduled a vote on Wednesday on a nearly four-month extension of U.S. borrowing capacity, but the bill does not specify a dollar amount.

Legislative language released by the House Rules Committee on Monday said the bill aims "to ensure complete and timely payment of the obligations of the United States Government until May 19, 2013."

The legislation is a strategic move by House Republicans to avoid a fight over the looming federal debt ceiling and shift their negotiating leverage for spending cuts to other fiscal deadlines. The U.S. Treasury expects to exhaust all remaining power to borrow money under the $16.4 trillion debt limit sometime between mid-February or early March.

The strategy shift, agreed last week by House Republicans at a retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia, aims to draw the Democratic-controlled Senate into taking action to cut deficits by requiring the Senate to pass a budget resolution by April 15. The Senate has not passed a budget in nearly four years.

Under the legislation, if either the Senate or House fail to meet the April 15 budget deadline, lawmakers' salaries would be held in escrow until their chamber passes a budget.

House Speaker John Boehner had referred to this provision as a "no budget, no pay" requirement.

But in order to avoid any constitutional violations, the withheld salaries would be released at the end of the current Congress in January 2015.

The legislation temporarily suspends the debt limit and allows the government to borrow as necessary to meet its obligations, including interest payments, until May 19.

But it is not a blank check for the Treasury - it cannot, for example, borrow extra funds during the suspension period to fund the $1 trillion deficit expected for fiscal 2013. The Treasury can only borrow to fund commitments that require payment before May 19.

The House Rules Committee is scheduled to set conditions for debate on the legislation, including rules for any amendments, at an emergency meeting on Tuesday..

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Jackie Frank)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (9)
Eric.Klein wrote:
Having failed twice now to postpone things by “forcing” results the House will try to do it for a third time.

Good to know that the House Republicans are read to let hope beat out experience yet again as they try to force behavior that they can not get their own members to enact.

Jan 21, 2013 2:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Eric.Klein wrote:
Having failed twice now to postpone things by “forcing” results the House will try to do it for a third time.

Good to know that the House Republicans are read to let hope beat out experience yet again as they try to force behavior that they can not get their own members to enact.

Jan 21, 2013 2:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Eric.Klein wrote:
Having failed twice now to postpone things by “forcing” results the House will try to do it for a third time.

Good to know that the House Republicans are read to let hope beat out experience yet again as they try to force behavior that they can not get their own members to enact.

Jan 21, 2013 2:27pm EST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.