House Republicans have agreed to demand that the Senate pass a budget as a condition of any “long-term” debt-limit agreement. “Unless the Senate acts, there will be no consideration of a long-term debt-ceiling increase,” House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said in a statement Friday after GOP meetings in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Majority Leader Harry Reid has refused to allow the Senate to pass a budget for nearly four years. The Senate last passed a budget in April 2009 — one that contained huge increases in spending passed by the big Democratic majorities in Congress at that time. Reid has made that elevated spending the new baseline by refusing to pass any budget since, with the government operating under a series of continuing resolutions based on the last budget that became law. (For background on the situation, see here.)
“Since taking the majority, House Republicans have done their job,” Ryan said in the statement. “We’ve passed a budget that promotes economic growth and gets spending under control. But for nearly four years, Senate Democrats have refused to pass a budget. Today’s agreement will hold the Senate accountable for this legal and moral failure. Just as April 15 is tax day for American families, it is budget day for Congress. Unless the Senate acts, there will be no consideration of a long-term debt-ceiling increase. I look forward to working with my colleagues—in both houses and in both parties—on this vital issue.”
There’s no word on how Democrats will react to the GOP announcement. Simply demanding a budget — not cuts in spending, not tax reform, not restructuring of entitlements — is the most minimal and common-sense of proposals, yet Democrats have so far been united behind President Obama’s position that the debt limit must be increased with no conditions attached.