House Approves Debt Ceiling Suspension

The House approved legislation (H.R. 325) this week to extend the debt ceiling deadline until May 18 with provisions authorizing suspension of congressional salaries if either chamber fails to pass a FY 2014 budget by April 14th. There is bipartisan support for the measure in the Senate and the White House also supports it.  

Suspending the debt ceiling until May is intended to provide time for Republicans and Democrats to work out a deal to avoid sequestration (automatic budget cuts scheduled to take effect March 1, 2013) and work on funding government beyond the Continuing Resolution (CR) that expires on March 27, 2013. The release of the Administration’s FY 2014 budget request, usually released in early February, will also be delayed until a yet-to-be-determined later date.

These actions and continuing uncertainty about the possibility of sequestration cuts and whether another CR will be authorized to keep government spending at FY 2012 levels for the remainder of the year has prompted DoD and the individual services to order hiring freezes, cancel training and certain travel, delay maintenance and halt other non-readiness-related programs to help reduce spending.