WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) – With President Barack Obama’s second term under way and the inaugural celebrations over, Congress is getting to work on tough legislative issues like reaching the debt limit and hammering out a budget deal.
Congress has failed to pass a budget for the last several years but some senate Democrats, including Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal, sense a change in the air.
“The sentiment of the senate is strongly in favor of assuring the American people that Washington will do business in a better way,” Blumenthal told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.
House Republicans believe if action on a budget is on the horizon, their legislation is likely responsible, Schneidau reported.
Besides extending the nation’s borrowing limit until May, the proposal would also withhold the pay of lawmakers in the House or Senate if their chamber fails to pass a budget by April.
“I’m very hopeful that the combination of the President’s inaugural plus a new bipartisan spirit will bring us together,” said Blumenthal.
House Republican leaders on Friday offered Obama a three-month increase to the nation’s debt limit and a dodge to a looming, market-rattling debt crisis. They backed off demands that any immediate extension of the government’s borrowing authority be accompanied by stiff spending cuts.
They also added a caveat designed to prod Senate Democrats to pass a budget: no pay for lawmakers if there again is no budget passed this year. House Republicans have passed budgets for two consecutive years; the Democratic-controlled Senate last passed a complete budget in 2009.
“All of us losing our pay if we don’t pass a budget is the right thing to do,” Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference, said on Fox News Sunday.
The main sticking point on a budget the past few years has been how to close the deficit. Republicans have called for spending cuts only, while Democrats have sought a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.
“We’re going to do a budget this year and it’s going to have revenues in it. And our Republican colleagues better get used to that fact,” New York Sen. Charles Schumer said on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday.
The White House, too, said it remained committed to what officials called a “balanced” approach to cutting the nation’s $16.4 trillion nation debt.
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