By Erik Wasson
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday rejected the House GOP’s three-month plan to increase the debt ceiling.
A spokesman for Pelosi said that the bill coming to the floor next week, which would raise the debt ceiling with the condition that Congress will not get paid if the House and Senate fail to pass a budget, is a "gimmick."
He called for a “clean” debt-ceiling increase without conditions.
“We need a clean debt ceiling increase and a bipartisan and balanced budget that protects Medicare and Social Security, invests in the future, and responsibly reduces the deficit,” he said. “This proposal does not relieve the uncertainty faced by small businesses, the markets and the middle class.”
Democrats want a budget that has a “balance” between spending cuts and tax increases.
GOP leaders said Friday that they will hold the debt-ceiling vote next week and that they are backing down from a previous demand that all debt-ceiling increases be accompanied by an equal amount of actual spending cuts.
Instead of concrete cuts, the GOP plan tries to force the Senate to pass a budget for the first time in four years. The GOP is banking that cutting off an unpopular Congress's pay will poll well with the public and be hard for Democrats to oppose.
The Pelosi reaction to the plan is more negative than that of the White House and Senate Democrats.
President Obama’s spokesman said Friday it is encouraged by the GOP shift.
"We are encouraged that there are signs that Congressional Republicans may back off their insistence on holding our economy hostage to extract drastic cuts in Medicare, education and programs middle class families depend on," spokesman Jay Carney said. "Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay."
While Carney did not specify that the GOP proposal is unacceptable, Hammill’s statement makes that clear.
House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) also blasted the GOP proposal, arguing that the economy needs to be free of any doubt the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling will be raised and the government will meet its payment obligations.
“The Republican proposal for a three-month increase in the debt ceiling does not resolve continuing uncertainty about whether the U.S. will pay its bills,” he said. “The American economy should not be used as a negotiating tactic for the unbalanced demands of Republicans.”
He reiterated that on the deficit, “all further steps must maintain a real balance of program cuts and revenues, including taxes.”