“This proposal does not relieve the uncertainty faced by small businesses, the markets and the middle class,” said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. “This is a gimmick unworthy of the challenges we face and the national debate we should be having. The message from the American people is clear: no games, no default.”
But Senate Democrats and the White House were more cautious and sounded encouraged that Republicans seemed to be beating a tactical retreat.
“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,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney in a statement. “Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt-limit increase without further delay.”
“It is reassuring to see Republicans beginning to back off their threat to hold our economy hostage,” said Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson. “If the House can pass a clean debt-ceiling increase to avoid default and allow the United States to meet its existing obligations, we will be happy to consider it.”
But in Washington-speak, a “clean” debt limit increase means a stand-alone measure without additional items — like the “no budget, no pay” idea — attached. Jentleson said Reid and his fellow Senate Democrats have yet to decide how they’ll respond to the measure.
The “no budget, no pay” idea is backed by No Labels, a group started about two years ago by both Democrats and Republicans in hopes of easing the partisanship and gridlock that has engulfed Washington. Sponsors in Congress include Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.
The Democratic-controlled Senate passed a similar idea in 2011 when unanimously adopting a measure to deny pay to members of Congress and the president if the government shuts down for lack of an agency funding bill. But top lawmakers like Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., have argued that the idea violates a provision of the Constitution that says Congress can’t change its pay until an election has passed.