GOP Exchanges Debt Limit Fight For Sequestration, Defense Spending

GOP Exchanges Debt Limit Fight For Sequestration, Defense Spending
GOP Exchanges Debt Limit Fight For Sequestration, Defense Spending

Republicans appear to have done an about-face on raising the debt limit, submitting a bill in the House on Wednesday that would temporarily suspend limits on budgeted spending until May 19. Senate Democrats called the acquiescence a victory, but not all House Democrats voted for the measure.

According to a Politico article out on Wednesday, House leaders and conservative members came to terms at a Republican retreat over the weekend after realizing they were facing tough political choices.

Host Carmen Russell-Sluchansky spoke with Politico’s deputy congressional editor, Dan Berman, to discuss the president’s agenda, Congress and the fiscal cliff.


They’re giving up three months of the fight over the debt limits. But, in exchange, you have better fights, more suited to the Republican talking points. They’ll have fights over Defense spending, they’ll have fights on how much the government should be spending. They’ll go on towards the end of March. They also want push Democrats to pass their own budget – something they haven’t done in several years. So they’re giving up the fight over the debt limits, which frankly they had lost to Barack Obama at the end of 2012 and so they were likely to lose that fight again. In exchange they’re going to have fights that they think will be better for them.

To add a little twist, they decided that no congressman should actually take salary if they don’t have a budget deal by April, 18th .

Yeah, this is political geometry. What they say is that both the House and the Senate have to pass these non-binding resolutions by April, 15th . And the Senate hasn’t done this in several years. And the House will pass a version of Paul Ryan’s bill from last year – something that cuts spending dramatically. Senate Democrats have tried to avoid these tough votes. This is especially tough for people in moderate states or red states running for re-election. They’ll force the Democrats to have some of those votes in the Senate. Now, the thing is – if they don’t pass this by April, 15th, they don’t get paid. But the Constitution says, you can’t change the pay of a lawmaker in the middle of the session. What they would really do – they would put the money at a bank account and let it stay there, if they don’t meet the April, 15th deadline. So it’s one of the things that look great. Members of the Congress won’t get paid! But it’s just a political game.

Not to sound too cynical, but if we could hold their pay for not doing their job, they wouldn’t be paid for a while.

That’s true! It’s funny! And the irony is that there’re plenty of millionaires in the House and the Senate who, I’m sure, don’t need extra-money and can get by without it.

They’re way better off than most Americans!

Yes, I’d say so.

Polls show that they’re to blame for not coming to a budget deal. Are they jumping out from a pan into a fire?

They’d say it’s a better fire, given the choices that they had. They also think that they now have time to take off their position to American people, to show that we’re spending too much money, that we need to address the budget deficit, we need to address out-of-control entitlement spending. Here’s some time to bring those arguments to the forefront. Clearly, they decided that going up against Obama in the debt limit where Obama was saying what the debt limit does is allows the U.S. to pay its bill. What kind of country doesn’t pay its bills? That was a losing argument. As you say, that may not win either, but it’s a better choice for them.

Fair enough.

About Carmen Munir Russell-Sluchansky 360 Articles
Carmen is a multimedia journalist based in Washington, DC whose work has appeared in a variety of outlets including National Geographic, NBC News, the BBC, Asia! Magazine, The China Post, Chicago Tribune and Orlando Sentinel.