AP graphic of House Speaker John Boehner (left) and President Obama
(USA TODAY) - House Republicans said Friday they intend to extend the nation's borrowing authority for three months, but will not agree to a long-term increase on the debt limit until both chambers of Congress approve a budget.
President Obama's spokesman, Jay Carney, said the White House is "encouraged" and repeated a call for an increase in the nation's borrowing authority without any restrictions.
A three-month extension would ensure the federal government does not default on its obligations. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told Congress the nation will reach its debt limit sometime between mid-February and early March.
A vote on the temporary debt limit extension will take place next week, the Associated Press reports.
At a House GOP closed-door retreat in Williamsburg, Va., Speaker John Boehner told lawmakers that they will insist members of Congress don't get paid until a budget is passed. Republicans are angry that the Democratic-controlled Senate has not passed a budget plan in four years.
"Before there is any long-term debt limit increase, a budget should be passed that cuts spending," Boehner said, according to excerpts of his remarks released by his office. "We are going to pursue strategies that will obligate the Senate to finally join the House in confronting the government's spending problem. The principle is simple: no budget, no pay."
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, the GOP's No. 3 leader, said the three-month extension will "meet our immediate obligations and ensure a responsible budget passes both chambers of Congress."
Obama has asked Congress to increase the debt limit without any conditions, as a way to calm financial markets. The fight over raising the debt limit and automatic spending cuts that take effect March 1 will be among the thorniest facing Obama as he begins a second term.
"The president has made clear that Congress has only two options: pay the bills they have racked up, or fail to do so and put our nation into default," Carney said in a statement. "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.
"Congress must pay its bills and pass a clean debt limit increase without further delay," Carney said.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., also welcomed the overture on the debt limit.
"It is reassuring to see Republicans beginning to back off their threat to hold our economy hostage," said Adam Jentleson, Reid's spokesman. "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."
The House GOP retreat in Williamsburg concludes Friday.