CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, the House will consider H.R. 325, a bill to ensure the complete and timely payment of the obligations of the United States Government until May 19, 2013, under a rule. The bill was introduced on January 21, 2013 by Representative Camp, Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.
The purpose of H.R. 325 is to allow the Department of Treasury to borrow to meet the obligations of the United States that require payment from the date of enactment through May 18, 2013. H.R. 325 accomplishes this by suspending the debt limit through May 18, 2013. At the end of the period, the aggregate debt limit will be amended and replaced with the amount borrowed. The bill also requires the passage of a FY 2014 budget resolution by the House and Senate. In the event that a budget resolution is not agreed to by April 15, 2013, the salaries that would have otherwise been paid to the Members of the chamber failing to agree to a budget resolution will be placed in escrow. Withheld funds will be released when a budget is adopted or the last day of the 113th Congress.
Debt Limit and the Budget Control Act of 2011
Since 1940, the debt limit has been raised a total of 92 times. Most recently, the limit was raised as part of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Congress authorized an increase in the debt ceiling totaling at least $2.1 trillion in three phases: immediately upon certification by the President on August 2, 2011; later in September 2011; and again in January 2012. At the end of 2012, the Department of Treasury reached its authorized limit of $16.4 trillion. Since that time, Treasury has been utilizing “extraordinary measures” to pay our nation’s obligations. The extraordinary measures are expected to be depleted sometime between mid February and early March.
Why a Temporary Increase in the Debt Limit Matters
The temporary increase in the debt limit is part of House Republican efforts to frame the debate on the three fiscal deadlines that will be occurring within the next 90 days. In addition to reaching the $16.4 trillion debt limit next month, the sequestration authorized by the Budget Control Act of 2011, and delayed by the American Taxpayer Relief Act, takes effect on March 1, 2013. Finally, the current continuing resolution expires on March 27, 2013.
H.R. 325 accomplishes this goal by pushing the long term debt ceiling debate until later this spring and allowing the House to focus on the next two fiscal-related dates. Moreover, by tying the debt ceiling increase to the passage of a FY 2014 budget resolution, the House is able to focus on the importance of a budget resolution in setting the priorities for spending, revenue, and the debt both in the near and long term. The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 requires both the House and the Senate to pass a budget resolution, which the Senate has failed to do since April 29, 2009.
No cost estimate is available at this time.