Posted at: 01/26/2013 10:43 AM
By: Julie Sherwood/Messenger Post
The two GOP Congress members representing Ontario County applauded legislation fellow Republicans sped through the House on Wednesday to avert the imminent threat of a government default. But the legislation paves the way for a springtime budget struggle with President Barack Obama over Medicare, farm subsidies and other benefit programs.
The legislation, which cleared the House on a bipartisan vote of 285-144, would permit Treasury borrowing to exceed the limit of $16.4 trillion through May 18.
The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to approve the debt bill within days.
Casting the bill as a way to force the Senate to draft a budget for the first time in four years, House Republicans noted that if either house fails to do so, its members’ pay would be withheld. They called the bill “no budget, no pay,”’ a slogan but not a statement of fact, since lawmakers would be entitled to collect their entire salaries at the end of the Congress with or without a budget in place.
U.S. Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, whose district includes eastern and southern parts of Ontario County, said if legislators are not able to pass a budget, they do not deserve to get paid. “Holding the Senate accountable in passing a budget is a first step toward managing our nation’s finances,” Reed stated in a release.
U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, whose 27th district includes the northern and western parts of Ontario County, stated in a release: “The ‘No Budget, No Pay Act’ obligates the Senate to finally join the House in passing a budget ... and if the House and Senate do not pass a budget, members will not get paid. If hardworking taxpayers and small business owners all across NY-27 have to budget, so should Washington.”
House Democrats made no attempt to defend the Senate’s failure to draft a budget over the past three years, instead saying a mere four-month extension in the debt limit would not give business and the financial markets the certainty that is necessary for the economy to grow more quickly. U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, his party’s senior Budget Committee member, said the good news was, “Republicans have finally recognized the government must pay its bills. ... The bad news is they only want to do it for three months.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.