Republicans came into their annual retreat at Williamsburg, Virginia looking for a starting point in the upcoming debt and budget battles. It appears that they have emerged from the retreat with a full blown plan.
They will pass a bill this week that will suspend the debt ceiling law until May 18. The debt limit increase will be tied to a requirement that the Senate passes a budget – with the threat of cutting off pay for senators in the event they fail to come through with one by April 15. Note that there is no requirement that the Senate pass a budget that balances in 10 years, just that they pass any budget.
The underlying rationale behind this strategy is to defer the debt ceiling fight until after the FY 2013 CR is dealt with and the FY 2014 budgets are formulated. The idea is that the House would unite behind a pro-active budget/debt plan in March from which they would harness as their demand for any long-term debt ceiling increase in mid-April.