Congress shouldn't get paid until debt ceiling is addressed, Democrat says

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Washington — Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia is calling for the House's chief administrative officer to prepare to withhold pay for members of Congress until the looming crisis over the debt ceiling is resolved.

"If the American people and the American economy are suffering as a result of congressional inaction, then Members of Congress should not be rewarded with their pay," Spanberger wrote in a letter Friday to Catherine Szpindor, who oversees day-to-day House operations as chief administrative officer.

The Virginia Democrat criticized House GOP leaders for moving through legislation that would raise the debt limit through March 2024 while cutting roughly $4.5 trillion in spending, even though the plan is dead on arrival in the Democratic-led Senate.

"As we quickly approach a default, Congress is failing to protect seniors, servicemembers, Veterans, and all Americans who would be impacted by a default," she wrote, adding that "hyper-partisanship in Congress is jeopardizing the economic strength and security of our country, the stability of global markets, and the world's faith in the credit of the United States of America."

Spanberger requested Szpindor prepare to withhold pay for members of Congress until it passes and President Biden signs a bill raising or suspending the debt ceiling.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned Congress this month that the U.S. could default on its debt as soon as June 1 if Congress does not raise or suspend the nation's borrowing limit by then, raising the stakes for Mr. Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to reach a deal to address the iss and stave off an economic crisis.

But the president and the GOP leader have been engaged in a stand-off over how to avoid default, with Mr. Biden and congressional Democrats warning they will only accept a "clean" bill that solely raises the nation's borrowing authority. Republicans, however, are pushing to pair a debt-limit increase with cuts to federal spending.

Mr. Biden met Tuesday with McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the White House to discuss a path forward on a debt ceiling deal, though the meeting failed to yield much progress.

"I didn't see any new movement," McCarthy told reporters outside the White House.

The president, meanwhile, said the meeting was "productive," but reiterated that he would not accept sweeping spending cuts.

A meeting between Mr. Biden and the congressional leaders set for Friday was also postponed while staff-level discussions continue.

Though the House has passed a plan that lifts the debt ceiling, it has no chance of becoming law. In addition to the opposition in the Senate, where Democrats control 51 seats, the president has threatened to veto the plan.

The bill represented McCarthy's opening bid to Mr. Biden in negotiations over a deal to address the debt limit and was a crucial victory for the Republican leader in his efforts to keep together the various factions of the GOP caucus.

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