House Republicans on Monday unveiled legislation that will suspend the debt ceiling until May 19, setting the stage for a floor vote as soon as Wednesday.
While past measures to address the debt limit have simply increased the borrowing cap, the House bill would actually suspend the debt limit until May 19. On that date, the debt limit would be automatically increased from $16.4 trillion to accommodate whatever additional borrowing the Treasury had done during that time frame.
The arrangement provides some political cover for Republican lawmakers, since they will not be required to vote for a specific dollar amount that could be used against them in campaign ads.
The House Rules Committee posted the text of the legislation as Washington prepared for President Obama’s second inauguration. In addition to preventing default, the bill would withhold members’ pay if Congress fails to pass a budget by April 15.
The Rules Committee will hold an emergency meeting to discuss the legislation Tuesday, setting up a vote as soon as Wednesday on the House floor.
House Republican leaders are using the bill to put pressure on Senate Democrats to pass a budget, which they have failed to do for over four years.
“Before there is any long-term debt-limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told the Republican Conference on Friday in remarks to close the party’s three-day retreat in 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.”
Leading Senate Democrats have said they will produce a budget resolution that will include increased revenues, and will consider the debt-limit boost set to come from the House.