Baby step to a budget

Normally we would decry acts like the vote in the House of Representatives to increase the debt ceiling for three months as “kicking the can down the road again.”

To some extent, Wednesday’s vote is delaying the inevitable. But, there is a caveat:

The debt ceiling will be allowed to rise again in May, but only if the U.S. Senate proposes a budget for the country before the deadline. The Senate has not passed a budget since 2009. The country has been operating on a set of spending bills known as “continuing resolutions.”

In other words, one house of our national legislature – the Senate – has not even made an attempt to show how revenues match up against expenditures in the last four years.

For the last two years, the Senate has voted unanimously to reject budget proposals from the White House – 97-0 for a 2012 budget, 99-0 for a 2013 budget. Yet the body offered no budget plan of its own as an alternative.

It appears that the Senate will approve Wednesday’s House bill sometime next week. The president has said he will sign it.

Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Senate Budget Committee, pledged that senators would come up with a proposed budget before the deadline.

One other interesting aspect of Wednesday’s vote is a “no budget, no pay” condition. If either body of Congress fails to adopt a budget by the deadline, all members of that body will have their paychecks put into an escrow account.

Unfortunately, the withholding is temporary. According to ABC News, if there is no budget by the end of the current Congress, the pay will be released to legislators.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.