As Congress Votes to Avert One Fiscal Crisis, Boehner Moves On to Another

House Speaker John A. Boehner spoke to reporters about the next round of budget fights on Thursday.Stephen Crowley/The New York Times House Speaker John A. Boehner spoke to reporters about the next round of budget fights on Thursday.

Just when it looked as if both political parties were ready to step off the bloody budget battlefield, the troops on Thursday began mustering for a new skirmish on an old issue: the debt ceiling.

Final passage Thursday of legislation to keep the government financed through Sept. 30 was supposed to usher in a more orderly budget process after nearly three years of brinkmanship and crises. Then Speaker John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, renewed his demand that any increase in the government’s statutory borrowing limit be accompanied by equivalent spending cuts — on top of the across-the-board cuts and budget caps already squeezing the government.

“Dollar for dollar is the plan,” Mr. Boehner told reporters.

His signals were somewhat mixed. The debt ceiling will not have to be raised until July or August, and while the speaker said that deadline would provide Republicans some leverage, he added, “I’m not going to risk the full faith and credit of the federal government.”

But Kevin Smith, a spokesman for the speaker, clarified that Mr. Boehner was not backing down.

“The speaker has made clear many times that Republicans will insist on spending cuts and reforms that exceed any upcoming debt hike,” he said.

Mr. Boehner’s stand may raise the pressure on House and Senate negotiators to come to an orderly agreement on deficit reduction this spring, but the way forward is unclear, a point the speaker himself made.

“The president has been clear that he’s not going to address our entitlement crisis unless we’re willing to raise taxes. I think the tax issue has been resolved,” he said. “So at this point, I don’t know how we’re going to go forward.”

Some rank-and-file Republicans have suggested that the House raise the debt ceiling only in exchange for significant changes to entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, made it clear that Democrats would not play that game.

“Them’s fighting words,” she said.

Article source: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/as-congress-votes-to-avert-one-fiscal-crisis-boehner-moves-on-to-another/?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

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