Temporary Debt Ceiling Raise Passes House of Representatives

'No Budget, No Pay' heads to the Senate, where Harry Reid vows to take it up immediately.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., left, and Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, arrive to a second Republican caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.
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The House of Representatives passed legislation Wednesday to temporarily increase the country's debt ceiling with the caveat that Senate Democrats pass a budget or face no pay for 18 months.

The measure passed 285 to 144 and will raise the country's $16.4 trillion debt limit until May 19.

Passing the legislation, which Republicans introduced less than a week ago, exhibited the GOP's willingness to put off a fiscal fight for another day when the country's credit rating was not in jeopardy.

Originally, House members demanded dollar-for-dollar spending cuts to raise the debt ceiling. The political reality, however, proved difficult. Multiple polls warned Republicans that if they defaulted on the nation's debt, the majority of Americans would blame them.

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Leadership agreed it would be better to fight for deep spending cuts when lawmakers negotiate $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts slated to hit in early March.

And conservative members of the Republican Party got on board with the plan after members of the Republican leadership promised they would draft a budget blueprint in April that balances the nation's debt within 10 years.

"I want to move the world quickly, but I am also willing to move it in inches," Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador told reporters Tuesday when he announced he would vote for the bill.

More than 100 Democrats, however, voted against the legislation, dismissing it as a budget "gimmick."

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"I am hearing people say we should go down this path of least resistance," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said on the floor before the vote. "The fact is that it is a path to even more problems…a path to another cliff."

Some Democrats in the House of Representatives even called the legislation unconstitutional because it delayed paying Congress.

"It is institutionalized bribery and extortion," New York Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler said on the floor. "We should not be bribing members. How dare we?"

Senate Democrats, however, praised the Republicans for moving forward. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid congratulated the GOP for its actions and stated he would quickly move on the measure.

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"It surrenders the hostage Republicans took in the past," Reid said during a press conference. "We understand they need a gimmick or two to get things through over there. To spare the middle class, we are going to proceed on this legislation and get this thing passed."

"I certainly would have appreciated a longer term bill that provides more certainty, but this sets a new precedent," said Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee. "The brinkmanship needs to stop."

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