WASHINGTON – With the inauguration behind us, the attention of both parties turns to the debt ceiling.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that would suspend the debt ceiling for three months, which will allow the government to continue to pay its bills and give lawmakers a bit of room for budget negotiations.
Officials said the move is a concession by Republicans that they were not going to win a spending cut fight by using the debt ceiling.
John Boehner, Speaker of the House, said, “Americans believe if you don’t do your job you shouldn’t get paid.”
The House passed a short-term fix in the form of lifting the debt ceiling for a few months but requires a budget plan in return.
If they cannot agree on a budget by mid-April, Congress would not get paid.
Boehner said, “You can’t go for months and months without a paycheck and what this does is basically says your pay gets escrowed, gets put on hold, until such time as you pass a budget.”
The debt ceiling will be suspended until May 19.
While there are no figures associated with the bill, it would retroactively increase the ceiling to cover the amount of money that is spent in the time being.
Republicans, who are wary of getting blamed for another debt ceiling fight, are trying to turn up pressure on Democrats in the Senate who have not passed a regular budget in four years.
Senators say they will vote on the bill in the coming days and President Obama said he would sign it into law if it reaches his desk.
If a plan is not approved, the country will max out its spending limit at $16.4 trillion in several weeks and risk possible default on the nation’s debt.