By Alexander Bolton - 01/23/13 05:44 PM EST
The Senate will immediately pass a House bill to extend the federal debt limit to May 19 on condition that both chambers pass budget resolutions by mid-April, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
The House passed its debt-limit extension bill Wednesday, 285-144.
Democrats touted victory on two fronts. They claimed Republicans have agreed to raise the debt limit without threatening to force a partial government shutdown or default and to break the Boehner Rule, named after Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), which calls for spending cuts to match increases in the debt limit dollar for dollar.
“Today I’m pleased that Speaker Boehner’s House colleagues have decided to change course and pass a bill that diffuses yet another fight over the debt ceiling,” Reid told reporters.
“The most important aspect of this legislation, that they’re going to vote on — I understand — in the House today, is that it surrenders the hostage Republicans took in the past,” he added. “It decouples the full faith and credit of the United States from cuts to Social Security and Medicare or anything else.”
Reid praised the House legislation as a clean increase in the debt limit, dismissing an added provision requiring the Senate and House to pass budget resolutions by April 15 as a meaningless gimmick. Senate and House lawmakers would suffer a pay freeze if they failed to meet the deadline.
Reid proclaimed the battle over the debt limit, which has consumed Congress since the spring of 2011, as settled. He said Republicans can no longer use it as leverage for future spending fights.
“It will set the precedent for future debt-ceiling extensions that we’ll have to have,” Reid said. “By passing this bill, the Republicans are joining Democrats to say we will not hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage. We will pay the bills that we have incurred.”
Reid said the Senate would pass the House bill quickly, but warned it could face some opposition from conservative Republicans in the upper chamber.
“To spare the middle class another knock-down, drag-out fight, we’re going to proceed to work on this legislation and get it out of here as quickly as we can,” he said, praising Boehner’s leadership for “defusing a fight over the debt-ceiling debate.”
Sen. Chuarles Schumer (N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, exulted in the Democratic victory.
“The bill represents a huge de-escalation on the debt-ceiling issue, it hands the president his second major win in a month and it shows that the Republicans are in full-on retreat on fiscal policy,” Schumer said.
Updated at 1:41 p.m.